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Climate Crisis Coalition Newsfeed (Nov 5, 2006)

November 4, 2006: International Day of Climate Action

Climate Change Rally Draws 30,000 in Sydney. The Melbourne Age, November 5, 2006 . " Tens of thousands of Australians marched through capital cities across the country yesterday, calling for action on climate change.The Walk Against Warming rally attracted more than 30,000 people in Melbourne while up to 12,000 people braved wet and windy weather to turn out in Sydney. Similar events took place in 48 countries and more than 20 other locations across Australia as part of an international day of action on climate change."

22,000-plus in London Protest for Urgent Climate Action . By Phil Hazelwood, Agence France-Presse, November 4, 2006. "Between 22,000 and 25,000 protesters have converged on central London as part of global protests calling for urgent action from world leaders to tackle climate change... Organisers the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition estimated that the crowds -- including cyclists, walkers, celebrities, politicians and "green" lobbyists -- numbered more than 25,000. Of those, police said about 4,000 people gathered outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square to call for Washington to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that set targets for a reduction in signatory countries' carbon dioxide emissions."

Climate Protest Goes 'Mainstream' . By Alex Kleiderman, BBC News, November 5, 2006. "As th ousands of people joined a march and rally in London calling for action on climate change on the eve of global talks in Nairobi many were publicly adding their voice to the campaign for the first time. A multitude of signs - Flood Warning, Cut the Carbon, Climate chaos kills, Solar not Nuclear, Cheap Flights Cost the Earth - reflected a diverse set of interests from different organisations. Many demonstrators, however, said they were representative of a growing green awareness and the belief that governments need to be persuaded to take more action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gasses."

In Pictures: Climate Change Rally . BBC News, November 5, 2006 . "A day of events calling for urgent action on climate change started with a protest bike ride that took in the Australian and US embassies and Downing Street."

Hundreds Protester in Cities Across Canada . CBC News, November 4, 2006. " Hundreds of protesters gathered in cities across Canada on Saturday to demand the Conservative government support the Kyoto Protocol and fight global warming. In Ottawa, about 200 protesters rushed the Parliament buildings to demonstrate their anger over Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Clean Air Act, which they said sends the signal to the world that Canada has given up on its battle against greenhouse gases. . ... The protests, which were also held in Montreal and Toronto, came on the same day as Harper reportedly cancelled a planned meeting later this month in Finland with EU leaders, who were sure to criticize him for abandoning goals of the Kyoto accord."

Activists Fan Out in Vermont . By Wilson Ring, The Associated Press, November 4, 2006. "Scores of people fanned out from one end of Vermont to the other and from top to bottom on Saturday to urge lawmakers to make real progress in the fight against global warming. Middlebury College scholar in residence Bill McKibben led a group of about 30 people to the summit of Camel's Hump where they got an early taste of winter and fleeting views of Lake Champlain through the low clouds... 'The purpose is to remind our candidates who are about to become our elected officials that this is literally the highest priority in the state today,' said McKibben... McKibben was also planning to speak by telephone with people participating in a rally in Burlington."


Climate and the 2006 Elections

Environmentally Themed Ads in the Midterm Elections . Posted by David Roberts, Grist Magazine, November 1. 2006. "Typically green issues are buried at the bottom of a list, or ignored altogether, but on energy, alternative fuels, climate, and clean air and water, this year politicians are proudly touting their environmental bona fides in campaign ads. We'll find out in a few weeks whether these issues tip any races (though, let's be honest, the defining issue of almost all these campaigns is disillusionment with the national Republican leadership and the Iraq War)." In this article, you will find links to campaign T.V. ads and websites shaping climate issues in the 2006 elections.

Boulder to Vote on Energy Tax . By Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News, October 30, 2006. “The city [of Boulder] has proposed a per-kilowatt tax that would cost the average homeowner an extra $22 a year. The money would be used to push alternative fuels, more efficient light bulbs and alternatives to automobile transit. The goal: to reduce Boulder’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 7 percent below its 1990 levels by the year 2012. [To meet Kyoto standards]… If the climate-action-plan tax is approved, the city’s trash-collection tax will end.”

Power Play: Some Californians to Pick Their Utility at the Polls . By David Cay Johnston, The New York Times, November 3, 2006. “Voters in Yolo County could set a precedent if they decide to switch from Pacific Gas and Electric to the municipal utility… Such a move is a rare event these days in California, where corporate-owned and publicly owned power systems fought long and bitter battles going back more than a century over the role of electricity in state politics and the economy… P.G.&E. has poured $10.4 million of its shareholders’ money into trying to defeat the plan, even though it would lose just 1.5 percent of its customers. The utility, which is worried about Yolo County setting a precedent, is the sole donor to the no campaign… Advocates for the switch — a coalition of business owners, local officeholders and a few dedicated public power advocates — have spent less than $1 million, most of it raised in small amounts. Volunteer crews have gone door to door seeking votes… One main reason municipal utilities can offer lower rates is that they are able to borrow tax-free, giving them lower interest rates than corporate utilities. They also often get cheap hydroelectric power from government dams, pay much smaller salaries to executives and do not have to pay dividends to shareholders.”

MIT Survey: Climate Change Tops Americans' Environmental Concerns . Press Release, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 31, 2006 . " According to a recent MIT survey, Americans now rank climate change as the country's most pressing environmental problem -- a dramatic shift from three years ago, when they ranked climate change sixth out of 10 environmental concerns... All together, almost 60 percent of the 2006 respondents agreed that there's enough evidence to warrant some level of action. The other big change is a substantial increase in people's willingness to spend their own money to do something about it. In 2003, people were willing to pay on average $14 more per month on their electricity bill to 'solve' global warming. In 2006 they agreed to pay $21 more per month--a 50 percent increase in their willingness to pay."

The Environment in Election '06 . Living on Earth (National Public Radio) website. " November 7th is shaping up as a very important day for the environment. Living on Earth's Washington correspondent Jeff Young details our election coverage and some of the key races to watch." Check links to stories.

The Stern Report

Britain Calls for Urgent Climate Change Action . By Adrian Croft and Gerard Wynn, Reuters, October 30, 2006 . " Britain issued a call for urgent action on climate change on Monday after a hard-hitting report painted an apocalyptic picture of the economic and environmental fallout from further global warming. The report said failing to tackle climate change could push world temperatures up by 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) over the next century, causing severe floods and harsh droughts and potentially uprooting as many as 200 million people. But the author, former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, said if action is taken now the benefits of determined worldwide steps to tackle global warming will massively outweigh the economic and human costs. 'The Stern review has done a crucial job. It has demolished the last remaining argument for inaction in the face of climate change,' British Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the launch of the report. 'We know now urgent action will prevent catastrophe and investment in preventing it now will pay us back many times.' Britain is pushing for a post-Kyoto framework that would include the United States... as well as major developing countries such as China and India." ( The Full Report, The Stern Presentation; and Background Info .)

The Day that Changed the Climate . By Colin Brown and Rupert Cornwell, The London Independent, October 31, 2006. “Climate change has been made the world's biggest priority, with the publication of a stark report showing that the planet faces catastrophe unless urgent measures are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Future generations may come to regard the apocalyptic report by Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, as the turning point in combating global warming, or as the missed opportunity. As well as producing a catastrophic vision of hundreds of millions fleeing flooding and drought, Sir Nicholas suggests that the cost of inaction could be a permanent loss of 20 per cent of global output... Across the world, environmental groups hailed the report as the beginning of a new era on climate change, but the White House maintained an ominous silence. However, the report laid down a challenge to the US, and other major emerging economies including China and India, that British ministers said cannot be ignored… In the Commons, Environment Secretary, David Miliband, confirmed that ministers were drawing up a Climate Change Bill, which would enshrine in law the Government's long-term target of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050… Charlie Kronick, of Greenpeace, said… ‘There are no more excuses left, no more smokescreens to hide behind, now everybody has to back action to slash emissions, regardless of party or ideology,’ he said.”

Climate Change Fight 'Can't Wait' . BBC News, October 31, 2006. “The Stern Review forecasts that 1% of global gross domestic product (GDP) must be spent on tackling climate change immediately. It warns that if no action is taken: 1) Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people; 2) Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population; 3) Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct; 4) Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of climate refugees."

In Britain, All Parties Want to Color the Flag Green . By Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post, October 31, 2006. “Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on October 30 that the world is heading toward ‘disastrous’ and ‘irreversible’ climate changes. Meanwhile, David Cameron, the popular leader of the opposition Conservative Party, vowed to install a wind-power generator and solar panels at the prime minister's residence if he wins the office. Blair and Cameron are rivals, but their shared outspoken devotion to fighting global warming -- the subject of a stark British government report released Monday -- illustrates the unity among leaders across the political spectrum here on the dangers of climate change and, in the absence of U.S. leadership, their apparent determination to make Britain a world leader on the issue… Chancellor Gordon Brown, who commissioned the study and is Blair's likely successor as prime minister, said new economic opportunities would be created by finding alternative energy sources and other solutions. He said such moves would create ‘new markets, for new jobs, new technologies, new exports where companies, universities and social enterprises in Britain can lead the world.’… Former U.S. vice president Al Gore… has become a symbol of Britain's nonpartisan commitment to climate change. He is advising Brown.”

Brits Recruit Gore to Advise UK on Climate Change Policy . By Robert Hutton,, October 30, 2006 . "U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown recruited Al Gore to advise him on tackling climate change as the Labour government endorsed a report calling for the world to spend $350 billion a year on the environment. Brown will back a study by Treasury economist Nicholas Stern recommending the European Union expand its carbon trading market by forming links with the U.S., Australia and Japan. He will also call for an EU-wide target to reduce emissions by 60 percent by 2050, people familiar with the matter said... Brown's... selection of Gore as an adviser... underlines the government's effort to draw the U.S. back into international talks aimed at curtailing pollution blamed for damaging the Earth's climate."

White House Nods at British Report . Reuters, October 31, 2006. “In an e-mailed statement, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said, ‘The U.S. government has produced an abundance of economic analysis on the issue of climate change. The Stern Report is another contribution to that effort.’ The statement from spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer said the United States is ‘well on track to meet the president's goal to reduce greenhouse gas intensity of our economy 18 percent by 2012.’ The problem, said Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense, is that this goal essentially requires only the status quo. ‘This is just business as usual for this economy,’ Petsonk said.”

OPEC Says British Climate Change Report ‘Unfounded’. Reuters, October 31, 2006. “A hard-hitting report on climate change published by the British government on Monday has no basis in science or economics, OPEC's Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said on Tuesday… [He] said it was misguided but he did not elaborate on possible solutions to the problem. ‘The mitigation and adaptation to climate change can only be accomplished on the principles of common responsibility and respected capabilities and not by scenarios that have no foundations in either science or economics as we had yesterday from London,’ he said. OPEC is made up of Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.”

Avoiding Calamity on the Cheap . Editorial by The New York Times, November 3, 2006. "A much-anticipated study on climate change ordered up by Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain has attempted to calculate the economic costs of global warming. Though necessarily conjectural, the study warns that if we continue on our current course, atmospheric temperatures could rise four degrees or so in this century, producing a hugely disruptive mix of rising sea levels and withering droughts. This in turn would drain the world economy of trillions of dollars, with social and economic costs on a scale 'similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.'... Developing and deploying the necessary technologies will require a collective global effort. But the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases, the United States, is doing scandalously little. A detailed examination by The Times’s Andrew Revkin pointed out that Washington spends only $3 billion a year for all energy research and development. Of this, only a fraction — $416 million, according to the Energy Department — was spent last year on climate-friendly, renewable technologies like wind, solar power, cellulosic ethanol and hydrogen. By contrast, Washington spends $28 billion on medical research and $75 billion on military research... Most of the industrialized world has accepted the need for either carbon taxes or strict regulation, and Europe has already imposed a cap on emissions from its cars and factories. Mr. Bush and many in Congress remain steadfastly opposed — still convinced, it appears, that calamity can be avoided on the cheap."

Kyoto and Beyond

Stung by the Stern Report, World Climate Delegates Seek Way to Fight Warming . By Alister Doyle, Reuters, October 31, 2006. “U.N. climate talks in Kenya next week will hunt for new ways to fight global warming, stung by a warning that long-term inaction may trigger a cataclysmic economic downturn. But delegates say the 189-nation talks from November 6-17 look unlikely to make any big breakthroughs and may shy away from setting a firm timetable for working out a successor to the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan for curbing global warming which runs out in 2012… The meeting, of 6,000 delegates with ministers attending the second week, will try to work out how to involve Kyoto outsiders led by the United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and developing nations such as China and India more closely in longer-term U.N.-led plans.”

Blair Pushes to Speed Up Climate Change Talks . By Adrian Croft, Reuters, November 2, 2006. “British Prime Minister Tony Blair, armed with evidence of the disastrous impact of ignoring climate change, will talk to Germany's leader on Friday about speeding up a drive for a new international pact against global warming. Blair's meeting in London with German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes before United Nations talks in Kenya next week to hunt for new ways to fight climate change… Britain hopes a report it commissioned, which found the costs of inaction in the face of global warming far outweighed those of taking urgent measures, will galvanise efforts to reach a broad new international agreement. Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern's report, published this week, said failure to act could plunge the world into an economic crisis on a par with the 1930s Depression. Merkel, a former environment minister, has said she will make fighting climate change a priority next year when Germany takes over the presidency of both the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialised nations and the European Union.”

Creeping Greenhouse Gases Alarm UN Experts . By Haider Rizvi, The Mail and Guardian (New Zealand), November 3, 2006 . “Alarmed by the results of a new study, United Nations experts on climate change are urging the world's industrialised nations to introduce further cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. The industrial world's emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, they said in a report released by the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this week. The report, Greenhouse Gas Data 2006, shows that despite efforts to cap carbon-dioxide emissions, greenhouse-gas emissions in many countries of the industrialised world continued to grow from 2000 to 2004. Overall emissions had dropped by 3.3% in the 1990 to 2004 period, which, according to researchers, was mainly owing to a 36,8% decrease in Eastern and central European countries. Within the same period, the greenhouse-gas emissions of the other industrialised countries that have signed the Framework Convention increased by 11%.”

Britain to Push for Global Climate Deal by 2008 . By Larry Elliott and Patrick Wintour, The London Guardian, November 1, 2006. "The UK is to use the warnings of irreversible climate change and the biggest economic slump since the 1930s, outlined in the October 30 Stern review, to press for a new global deal to curb carbon emissions. The government is urgently pushing ahead on the issue because the existing Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012, and there is no binding agreement to extend it. Downing Street is seeking the outline of a package with the G8 industrial nations and five leading developing countries by next year, or 2008 at the latest."

Seeking Alternatives

Huge Kites to Help Propel Ocean-Going Ships ., November 1, 2006. "Whenever there is a hike in oil prices, the idea of a return to wind-powered shipping catches favor, but sail ship designs have often fallen short on a number of points, not least that they have to rely on unpredictable weather. However, the future of shipping could feature wind power, but with kites, not sails... Kites have the advantage of not needing masts, do not need a large area to store them and can be retrofitted to existing ships. 'Kites hold the potential to change the way we move goods across oceans. They are eco-friendly and sufficiently cost effective to herald a return to sail that the Earth's finite petroleum supplies mandate,' says Dave Culp, President of California based company KiteShip. Another company that is throwing itself into towing kite technology is SkySails, based in Hamburg, Germany... Neither company is proposing that engines will be made redundant with the use of a kite, rather that the added propulsion will save a considerable amount in fuel costs. Earlier this year SkySails trailed a kite on an 800-ton former buoy tender in the Baltic Sea. Using a towing kite of only 80-square-meters the Beufort reached five knots in low winds. While this doesn't sound very impressive, add to it engine propulsion and... a saving of between ten and 35 percent could be made on fuel costs and in better wind conditions, perhaps even 50 percent."

Wind Power's Payoff in Denmark . By Mark Harrington, New York Newsday, October 30, 2006. " As new initiatives in offshore wind power gain momentum around the globe, including the first in U.S. waters proposed off the coast of Long Island and in Asia, the situation in Denmark provides an insightful window into the potential as well as the challenges of powering up with wind... General acceptance of wind farms, and a thriving market for wind-energy equipment around the world, has pushed Denmark to forerunner status in the global market. Indeed, some days Denmark is choking on an abundance of wind power, so much so that it is forced to unload it at cost, or even at a loss, to neighboring countries... Today, it has 5,300 onshore wind turbines, with about 210 offshore... The wind-power industry wields vast political sway here, employing about 30,000 people and supplying about 40 percent of the world's wind turbines... The ability to export excess energy, or draw from other countries to stabilize the grid, is critical to maintaining stability in Denmark... From a baseline study begun with the first large-scale offshore wind farm in 1999, Denmark has reached certain conclusions about the collective impact of the turbines over seven years. In Horns Rev, feeding activity of harbor porpoises, after initially declining, has now returned to pre-wind farm levels, Nielsen said. Seals in every location, he said, 'we can almost definitely say seem not to be affected at all.' Investigators found that migrating birds 'seem to avoid collision' with turbines, Nielsen said, though they have not been able yet to document whether habitat for the common scooter, a sea duck, has declined."

Ethanol Threatens World Food and Political Security . By Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute, November 3, 2006. " In six of the last seven years world grain production has fallen short of use. As a result, world carryover stocks of grain have been drawn down to 57 days of consumption, the lowest level in 34 years. The last time they were this low wheat and rice prices doubled... the amount of grain used to produce fuel is exploding... On the food-versus-fuel issue, the world desperately needs leadership—a strategy to deal with the emerging food-fuel competition... As the world’s leading grain producer and exporter, as well as its largest producer of ethanol, the United States is in the driver’s seat.

As Investors Covet Ethanol Plant, Farmers Resist . By Alexei Barruonuebo, The New York Times, November 2, 2006. "With big profits gushing forth from ethanol plants, dozens of Wall Street bankers, in loafers and suits, have been descending on the cornfields of the Midwest promising to make thousands of farmers rich overnight. Most of them, though, are proving surprisingly reluctant to cash in... Despite the gold rush atmosphere, only two farmer-owned ethanol plants are known to have been sold to outsiders: one in Iowa and one in Minnesota... The ethanol market has slipped in recent weeks, so for farmers across the Midwest, the window of opportunity for big windfalls could be closing... Ethanol prices have already fallen by half since peaking at $4.23 a gallon on the Chicago spot market in June."

Promising Advances, Falling Research Budgets and Ever-More Daunting Challenges . By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, October 30, 2006. (An in-depth article in the NYTimes Energy Challenge series.) "Cheers fit for a revival meeting swept a hotel ballroom as 1,800 entrepreneurs and experts watched a PowerPoint presentation of the most promising technologies for limiting global warming: solar power, wind, ethanol and other farmed fuels, energy-efficient buildings and fuel-sipping cars. 'Houston,' Charles F. Kutscher, chairman of the Solar 2006 conference, [which convened last July in Denver] concluded in a twist on the line from Apollo 13, 'we have a solution.' Hold the applause. For all the enthusiasm about alternatives to coal and oil, the challenge of limiting emissions of carbon dioxide... will be immense in a world likely to add 2.5 billion people by mid-century, a host of other experts say. Moreover, most of those people will live in countries like China and India, which are just beginning to enjoy an electrified, air-conditioned mobile society. The challenge is all the more daunting because research into energy technologies by both government and industry has not been rising, but rather falling."

Overseeing the Regulators

Justices Seem to Side with Industry in EPA Clean Air Act Case . By Charles Lane, The Washington Post, November 2, 2006. "Supreme Court justices took a skeptical view of an Environmental Protection Agency crackdown on air pollution from electric power plants yesterday as the court heard oral arguments in a major case on the authority of the federal government to punish violations of the Clean Air Act. At issue is a wave of lawsuits begun by the EPA during the last two years of the Clinton administration in which the agency sought to force utilities to equip their refurbished older plants with state-of-the-art pollution control equipment. The EPA said it was enforcing its long-established view of the Clean Air Act's requirements. But companies objected, saying the EPA was unfairly imposing a new and stricter interpretation of ambiguous federal regulations. At yesterday's argument, most of the justices who spoke up seemed to agree with industry's view. 'What I'm concerned about is that companies can get whipsawed,' said Justice Antonin Scalia."

Canadian Cities Petition U.S. to Curb Air Pollution . CBC News, November 1, 2006. "Thirteen Canadian municipalities plan to file a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week that calls for reduced emissions from 150 coal-fired plants in seven U.S. Midwestern states. Albert Koehl, a lawyer for the Sierra Legal Defence Fund in Toronto, said the 150 coal-fired plants are polluters on a massive scale and are among the oldest and dirtiest in the United States... Under U.S. law, the EPA is supposed to force power plants to lower their emissions if evidence exists that the emissions are harming the health of Canadians. The petition refers to evidence from international reports that document the flow of air pollution from the United States into Canada. However, Koehl warned that under the administration of President George W. Bush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actually been trying to loosen air pollution laws rather than enforce them. The petition may have a limited chance of success, he said. He said it was nonetheless important for Canadian municipalities to join a fight by U.S. cities, states and environmental groups. There is already a slate of lawsuits by U.S. states calling for a reduction in emissions."

Allegations on Suppression of Global Warming Data Investigated . Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, November 2, 2006 . "Inspectors general at two agencies have begun an investigation into whether the Bush administration has suppressed government scientists' research on global warming, officials at NASA and the Commerce Department confirmed yesterday. Prompted by a request this fall by 14 Democratic senators, the IGs are examining whether political appointees have prevented climate researchers at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from conveying their findings to the public... Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and author of the Sept. 29 letter to the two inspectors general, said yesterday in an interview that he was pleased about the investigation."

A Clash in the Interior Over Endangered Listings . By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, October 30, 2006. "A senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department has rejected staff scientists' recommendations to protect animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act at least half a dozen times in the past three years, documents show. In addition, staff complaints that their scientific findings were frequently overruled or disparaged at the behest of landowners or industry have led the agency's inspector general to look into the role of Julie MacDonald — who has been deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks since 2004 — in decisions on protecting endangered species. The documents show MacDonald has repeatedly refused to go along with staff reports concluding that species such as the white-tailed prairie dog and the Gunnison's sage grouse are at risk of extinction. Career officials and scientists urged the department to identify the species as either threatened or endangered.... The dispute is the latest in a series of controversies in which government officials and outside scientists have accused the Bush administration of overriding or setting aside scientific findings that clashed with its political agenda on such issues as climate change, the Plan B emergency contraceptive or stem-cell research."

Climate Changes

Melting Arctic Makes Way for Man . By Douglas Struck, The Washington Post, November 5, 2006. "The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen weaves in graceful slow motion through the ice pack, advancing through the legendary Northwest Passage well after the Arctic should be iced over and shuttered to ships for the winter... A relentless climb of temperature -- 5 degrees in 30 years -- is shrinking the Arctic ice and reawakening dreams of a 4,000-mile shortcut just shy of the North Pole, passing beside the Arctic's beckoning oil and mineral riches. 'Shipping companies are going to think about this, and if they think it's worth it, they are going to try it,' says the captain of the Amundsen, Cmdr. Alain Gariepy, 43. 'The question is not if, but when.'... Satellite imagery has shown that the Arctic ice cap is thinning and already is nearly 30 percent smaller than it was 25 years ago. In the winter of 2004-05, the Arctic's perennial ice, which usually survives the summer, shrank by 280,000 square miles, the size of Turkey. This past August, a crack opened in the ice pack from the Russian Arctic to the North Pole, an event never seen before. Arctic ice reflects sunlight; its absence may accelerate global warming. The intricate chemistry that occurs in the rich Arctic waters could go haywire with unaccustomed heat and sunlight. Whole species seem destined to disappear while others move northward in their place. Inuit who thrived here for millennia are finding the thin ice and changed wildlife inhospitable."

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Climb Still Faster . BBC News, November 3, 2006. " The steady rise in atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gases blamed for climate change shows no signs of abating, a UN agency has announced. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide rose by about half a percent in 2005, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said. It said levels were likely to keep rising unless emissions of CO2, methane and nitrogen oxides were slashed... The WMO said concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) were measured at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53% from 377.1 ppm in 2004... 'To really make CO2 level off we will need more drastic measures than are in the Kyoto Protocol today,' Geir Braathen, a senior scientist at the WMO, told reporters."

Study Sees ‘Global Collapse’ of Fish Species . By Cornelia Dean, The New York Times, November 3, 2006. “If fishing around the world continues at its present pace, more and more species will vanish, marine ecosystems will unravel and there will be ‘global collapse’ of all species currently fished, possibly as soon as midcentury, fisheries experts and ecologists are predicting. The scientists, who report their findings today in the journal Science, say it is not too late to turn the situation around. As long as marine ecosystems are still biologically diverse, they can recover quickly once overfishing and other threats are reduced, the researchers say. But improvements must come quickly… The report is one of many in recent years to identify severe environmental degradation in the world’s oceans and to predict catastrophic loss of fish species. But experts said it was unusual in its vision of widespread fishery collapse so close at hand. The researchers drew their conclusion after analyzing dozens of studies, along with fishing data collected by the United Nations.”

Satellites Seek Global Hot Spots . By Robert C. Cowen, The Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2006. "Where is the world's hottest place? Weather reports are too sparse to tell. But all-seeing infrared heat sensors on satellites can do the trick. A study published last week gives the 2003 honor to Queensland, Australia, with that year's high of 156.7 degrees F. (69.3 degrees C). Iran's Lut Desert claimed the title in 2004 and 2005 with highs of 154.4 and 159.3 degrees F., respectively (that's 68 and 70.7 degrees C)... Satellites that survey Earth's surface and instruments that probe beneath the sea provide a continuous overview of global climate. The research team explains, 'In a warming world where extreme [land surface temperatures] are predicted to occur more frequently ... high-resolution satellite data provide the means of keeping track of where things are heating up.' This will help water-resource and land management planning. The maps also illuminate the influence of land use on regional climate. The study finds, for example, that maximum temperatures in forested areas tend to be... cooler than neighboring unforested regions... The satellites measure the temperature of whatever surface they see - bare ground, vegetation, or treetops. Bare ground acts like a hot plate. In a forest, trees use some of the solar heat to release water vapor, so there's less direct heating of the air from the ground."

Alarming Surge of a Potent Greenhouse Gas . New Scientist Magazine, September 30, 2006. “One molecule of HFC134a has a warming effect more than a thousand times that of CO, and its levels are rising… Since the ban on the chemically related CFCs, HFC134a has been manufactured in ever growing quantities for use in air conditioning systems in cars and buildings. The Norwegian Institute for Air Research says concentrations of the gas above Mount Zeppelin doubled between 2001 and 2004… Manufacturers of air conditioners say their systems are designed to prevent leaks. ‘The rapid increase shows that whatever the industry claims, the gases are not being contained,’ says Chris Rose of the Multisectoral Initiative on Potent Industrial Greenhouse Gases, based in London.”

Spreading Desert Killing Palm Trees in Morocco . Abderrahim El Ouali, Inter Press Service, October 30, 2006. " The visitor to Morocco has often been tempted by pictures with the proverbial palm tree somewhere in the frame. But fewer and fewer of these trees are now around, and at this rate of decline the visitor of the future might not find any at all. The picture is changing; it is now of the Sahara desert advancing into once green stretches. More than 22,000 hectares of arable land disappear under the desert every year now in Morocco, according to official figures. Desertification is now threatening all of the country. The ministry for the environment has said that almost 93 percent of Morocco is affected by aridity. Date palms are the most ravaged by desertification. At the end of the 19th century Morocco had an estimated 15 million date palms, according to a study by geographer Ahmed Harrak. That number has now slipped to 4.5 million. In losing date palms the local population loses the main source of income, and is consequently forced to abandon the land and leave."

Ocean Dead Zone Linked to Global Warming Worst Yet . By Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press, October 30, 2006. “ An ocean dead zone off Oregon that killed fish, crabs and sea worms in an area bigger than Rhode Island last summer lasted nearly three times longer than any of its predecessors before dissipating with autumn's change in the weather, scientists said Monday. This year's dead zone off Oregon ran for 17 weeks, compared to the previous high of six weeks in 2004, and saw oxygen readings near zero that left the ocean bottom littered with dead crabs, sea stars and sea anemones. This is the fifth straight year the dead zone returned. It covered 70 miles of the central Oregon Coast and there are indications a dead zone also formed off southern Washington... A recent United Nations report listed 200 dead zones around the world, including one off the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all of them are caused by fertilizer and pollution running down rivers to feed huge algae blooms, which die and decompose on the bottom, depleting the water of oxygen. The Oregon dead zone is different. Strong northerly winds drive a phenomenon known as upwelling, which turns over the waters on the Continental Shelf, bringing nutrients from the bottom to the top, and feeding an explosion of tiny organisms at the bottom of the food web known as phytoplankton. When the phytoplankton die, they sink to the bottom, where they are consumed by bacteria, using up all the oxygen. Similar dead zones have been documented off Africa off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa, and off South American off the coasts of Peru and Chile… The northerly winds that produce strong upwelling were twice as prevalent this summer as normal — a condition consistent with global warming”

Ocean Dead Zone Linked to Global Warming Worst Yet . By Jeff Barnard, The Associated Press, October 30, 2006. “ An ocean dead zone off Oregon that killed fish, crabs and sea worms in an area bigger than Rhode Island last summer lasted nearly three times longer than any of its predecessors before dissipating with autumn's change in the weather, scientists said Monday. This year's dead zone off Oregon ran for 17 weeks, compared to the previous high of six weeks in 2004, and saw oxygen readings near zero that left the ocean bottom littered with dead crabs, sea stars and sea anemones. This is the fifth straight year the dead zone returned. It covered 70 miles of the central Oregon Coast and there are indications a dead zone also formed off southern Washington... A recent United Nations report listed 200 dead zones around the world, including one off the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all of them are caused by fertilizer and pollution running down rivers to feed huge algae blooms, which die and decompose on the bottom, depleting the water of oxygen. The Oregon dead zone is different. Strong northerly winds drive a phenomenon known as upwelling, which turns over the waters on the Continental Shelf, bringing nutrients from the bottom to the top, and feeding an explosion of tiny organisms at the bottom of the food web known as phytoplankton. When the phytoplankton die, they sink to the bottom, where they are consumed by bacteria, using up all the oxygen. Similar dead zones have been documented off Africa off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa, and off South American off the coasts of Peru and Chile… The northerly winds that produce strong upwelling were twice as prevalent this summer as normal — a condition consistent with global warming”

Warming Climate Opens Late-Season Arctic Routes . Nathan VanderKlippe, CanWest News Service, October 27, 2006. "Arctic straits that are typically choked solid with ice this time of year remain completely open to shipping traffic late in October, raising profound issues for Canada as it struggles to maintain its grasp on the Arctic... 'We actually went through Bellot Strait and Fury and Hecla Strait, which nobody has ever done this time of year,' said Fisheries and Oceans researcher Gary Stern, who is serving as chief scientist aboard the Amundsen. 'There was absolutely no ice.' In 1822, when Fury and Hecla Strait was discovered by explorer William Edward Parry, its ice remained so thick at the height of summer that he was forced to anchor his boats and cross by foot. As recently as 1999, Canada's most powerful icebreaker, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, encountered so much ice during an August journey through the strait that she sustained damage to her propellers and could not move faster than 200 metres per hour."

Asthma Linked To Soot From Diesel Trucks In Bronx . Press Release, Science Daily, October 30, 2006. "Soot particles spewing from the exhaust of diesel trucks constitute a major contributor to the alarmingly high rates of asthma symptoms among school-aged children in the South Bronx, according to the results of a five-year study by researchers at New York University's School of Medicine and Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Over the course of the study, asthma symptoms, particularly wheezing, doubled among elementary school children on high traffic days, as large numbers attend schools in close proximity to busy truck routes because of past land-use decisions... The major type of air pollutant that was associated with symptoms of asthma was elemental carbon. This type of carbon, called black soot, is found in diesel exhaust and is a component of particulate matter in pollution that is smaller than 2.5 microns. This type of carbon has been cited as a causal agent in asthma in a number of other controlled-exposure studies in the laboratory. Past land use decisions have placed school children in close proximity to highways, truck routes, industrial land-use areas and other environmental hazards."

Offsetting, Trading and Taxing Carbon Emissions

UK Carbon Offset Plan Called 'a Fiasco' . By Matthew Chapman, BBC News, October 29, 2006. " Ministers announced that last year's G8 meeting would be the first ever carbon neutral summit and pledged that £50,000 would be given to a scheme in a township in Cape Town which provided energy saving light bulbs and fuel efficient stoves to local residents. The money is being routed through the United Nations-run Clean Development Mechanism, which gives the stamp of approval to energy saving schemes. However, the BBC has learned that the whole scheme has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare for the local council who face being left in debt... Environmental campaigners say the G8 leaders should have come up with a programme to reduce greenhouse gasses rather than get involved in carbon offset schemes... 'The whole of this G8 offsets scheme has been a fiasco from start to finish,' said Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth. 'The government would have done better to concentrate on the supply of low energy light bulbs in the UK before moving on to Africa.'"

Implementing the New California Global Warming Bill: ‘Command and Control’ vs. ‘Carbon Trading’ . By Daniel Weintraub, Scripps Howard News, October 31, 2006. " California's landmark law to fight global warming by clamping down on greenhouse gas emissions has not even taken effect, and already the Democrats in the Legislature who crafted the bill are at odds with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, if he is re-elected Nov. 7, will be responsible for making it work… Behind the confrontation is a fundamental dispute over exactly how California should force its industries to comply with the caps on greenhouse gas emissions as they are phased in during the years ahead. Democratic lawmakers and most environmental groups want to emphasize state-imposed standards and regulations to limit greenhouse gases. Industries would be ordered by the Air Resources Board to retool their operations in particular ways to limit the production of carbon dioxide… Schwarzenegger is not averse to this kind of direct regulation, which opponents characterize as ‘command and control.’ But the governor has also insisted that the new regulatory regime include a market-based system that allows companies to buy the right to pollute from others who have done more than their share to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “

Earth Voices

'Great Warming' Is an Eye-Opener . Review by William Arnold, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, November 3, 2006. “In the wake of the big splash made by Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" earlier this year, is there room for another documentary on the apocalyptic dangers of global warming? In a word, yes. "The Great Warming,"… does a solid job… And the fact that the film is being distributed exclusively by Regal Cinemas -- which is owned by a conservative Denver billionaire -- is encouraging evidence that the vital issue is no longer the exclusive domain of the Democratic left in this country… Unlike Gore's film, this one does not start out with a lengthy attempt to persuade us that global warming is real: It essentially tells us that the emergency is universally accepted by scientists and anyone who doubts it has to be some kind of idiot. After that, it jumps around the planet showing the catastrophic effects of trapped greenhouse gases: melting ice caps, rising seas, extreme weather, drought, famine, insect plagues, pandemics of new infectious diseases and all the rest… In the process, it manages to point out some elements to the equation that were not in the Gore film, such as the acceleration the process is likely to undergo in the next decade as the economic boom in Asia puts spewing cars in the hands of millions more of Chinese and East Indians… The film is at its best, however, in its second half when it speculates how the coming climate change is going to put its brand on the first generation of the new millennium, and demonstrates how so many young and old people already are answering the call to arms. We meet all sorts of innovative people addressing the challenge.” (The film is opening today at theaters around the country:

Mayor of London, on a Mission to Tackle Climate Change . By John Vidal, The London Guardian, November 1, 2006. "Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, is these days possessed of one great idea. Climate change, and how to avert it, consumes him. It now informs all his decisions on transport. It is top of his agenda for social housing and new building developments. He reads about it in his spare time. He talks about it to anyone who will bend an ear and he will travel to the ends of the earth if necessary to cut deals with other politicians, to steal the best ideas from other cities and to communicate with anyone the urgency and scale of the problem... If it were up to him, he says he would legislate against almost anything that adds to the problem. He would ban inefficient light bulbs, bang on carbon taxes, and massively increase the cost of airfares... Livingstone has been to the US to link with other world cities to share knowledge on reducing emissions, and to China to see the beginning of the world's first major eco-city."

Wangari Maathai's Dedication to Planting Trees Persists . Book Review by Shalini Ramananthan, Grist Magazine, October 30, 2006. Read Unbowed , Maathai's autobiography, and you'll quickly understand that her focus has always been on her country... A straightforward and unfussy memoir, is most moving when it details the challenges this outspoken, accomplished, passionate woman faced... Kenya has less than 2 percent indigenous forest remaining, and trees are often hacked down to provide wood for charcoal, to clear land for agriculture, or to provide a place for the poor and landless (they are legion) to squat. Maathai's passion is to heal the scarred Kenyan landscape, which no longer resembles the green highlands she grew up in."

Drastic Action on Climate Change is Needed Now - and Here's the Plan. By George Monboit, The London Guardian, October 31, 2006. " It is a testament to the power of money that Nicholas Stern's report should have swung the argument for drastic action, even before anyone has finished reading it. He appears to have demonstrated what many of us suspected: that it would cost much less to prevent runaway climate change than to seek to live with it. Useful as this finding is, I hope it doesn't mean that the debate will now concentrate on money. The principal costs of climate change will be measured in lives, not pounds... If we're to have a high chance of preventing global temperatures from rising by 2C (3.6F) above preindustrial levels, we need, in the rich nations, a 90% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030. The greater part of the cut has to be made at the beginning of this period... So how do we do it without bringing civilisation crashing down? Here is a plan for drastic but affordable action [for the UK but applicable elsewhere]... 1) Set a target for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions based on the latest science [90% by 2030]... 2) Use that target to set an annual carbon cap... Then use the cap to set a personal carbon ration... 3) Building regulations, with... strict energy-efficiency requirements... 4) Ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs... and other wasteful and unnecessary technologies... [tax] all electrical good [based on efficiency]... 5) Redeploy money now earmarked for new nuclear missiles towards a massive investment in [clean] energy generation and distribution... 6) Promote the development of a new national coach network [Intercity highway based buses with urban public transportation connections]... 7) Oblige all chains of filling stations to supply leasable electric car batteries... 8) Abandon road-building and road-widening... 9) Freeze and then reduce UK airport capacity... 10) Legislate for the closure of all out-of-town superstores... These timescales might seem extraordinarily ambitious... But if you believe that these are worse than mass death then there is something wrong with your value system."

They Find a Sustainable Environment for Pleasure . By Dan Zubin Scott, The Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2006. "Get a buzz on, meet attractive new people and combat global warming — all in a single night. Welcome to Green Drinks, a networking event in which environmentalists of all stripes swap business cards while knocking back Coronas. 'We're trying to heighten awareness of our dependence on oil and the destructive nature of an auto-dominated society,' said Zack Beatty, explaining the ethos of Santa Monica [CA] Critical Mass, the monthly bicycle ride he leads, at a recent Green Drinks... Fun is the manifesto of Green Drinks, which now claims to be in 140 cities around the world... Founded in London in 1989, Green Drinks are casual, unstructured events coordinated by volunteers." [To see if there is a monthly Green Drinks gathering near you check]

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