Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday Kyoto

As indicated in Stavros Dimas' blog, Kyoto turned ten years old yesterday. The Kyoto Protocol is a much celebrated climate change treaty. In his blog post, he discussed the Adaptation Fund for developing countries which I talked about in a previous post. He also discussed a meeting he had with a representative from California in which he recognized promise for U.S. policy on climate change. Discussions were also held with various different non-governmental organizations (NGO's). Dimas' blog offers an interesting perspective since he is strongly involved in climate change talks currently underway in Bali.

The fact that Dimas found promise in the U.S. through California is a positive sign. California, arguably the most environmental state in America, represents that not all Americans are SUV driving, anti-environmentalists. However, with the 10th anniversary of Kyoto, comes a sense of frustration that the U.S. still has not ratified this important environmental legislation.

Harnessing Lightning

In an NY Times online magazine article, the concept of lightning as an alternative energy source arose. In this new "greening" age, various different alternative energy sources are being tested. Different alternative energy sources in existence include wind energy, solar energy, bio-fuels (ethanol), geothermal energy, tide energy, nuclear energy, and hydro energy. Lightning is a new concept. The company Alternate Energy Holdings, bought a conceptual project to test this past summer in Houston, Texas. Although the testing team did not succeed, they assert the need for more funding and more testing. Others believe trying to harness lightning is not practical.

The fact that the team who actually tested this design believes that with more time and money, the project can be successful, says something. More time must be given to this team, since alternative energy sources are going to become quite important. Thousands of different ideas and concepts involving alternative energy sources are in existence. An explosion of science, technology, and money must take place in order for these projects to become actualized. However, these breakthrough happen gradually through trial and error with enactment of public policy to reach goals.

You Don't Have To Be A Treehugger To Be An Environmentalist

On TreeHugger, there is an entire sectioned devoted to "how to go green." Included in this section are various different aspects of ones life in which he or she can practice environmentally friendly activities quite easily. For example, there is a "green" gift guide that includes such products as organic clothes and solar powered tents.
Many think that environmentalism is synonymous with treehuggers, liberals, and hippies. However, this is not the case. People can do their part for the environment very simply. This does not have to be an issue split along party lines. The environment is shared by everyone, and therefore everyone must do their part in any way possible. TreeHugger provides a great wealth of information for people to follow in order to successfully "go green."

Tuvalu: The Sinking Island

A fund utilized to aid developing nations that fall prone to rising seas and droughts because of climate change, called the Adaptation Fund, is set to receive more money to accomplish its goals. This fund was discussing in a recent Reuters article, because of the climate change talks currently being conducted in Bali. Developing nations will feel the worst of climate change consequences since they do not possess the money to deal with the problems that will manifest. This is why they need a fund like this one.

Rich countries will be able to deal with climate change. Developing countries need to help, which meets much opposition from the Bush Administration. Regardless of our presidents ignorance of the issue, one consequence of climate change is a rise in sea level, which will swallow up small islands, like Tuvalu. Tuvalu is located in the Pacific in the middle of Hawaii and Australia. Approximately eleven thousand people live on the island, where more storms have been hitting annually then ever before. Because of extreme weather patterns and loss of land, they want international recognition. The Prime Minister of Tuvalu wants refugee status given to its citizens to relocate to Australia or New Zealand. Other islands subject to the effect of rises in sea levels indicated by projections from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change include Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Niue, and the Cook Islands.

Many approach environmental law with a view involving intergenerational equity. This concept is cogent when thinking along the lines of the time frame encompassing global warming and other environmental issues. Projecting towards the future, incorporating past blunders and ideas, as well as including today’s thoughts allows one to view the issue on a global scale. Intergenerational equity refers to a notion of fair and equitable measures for all generations.

Implicit in implications concerning intergenerational equity, is that developed/wealthier countries should take the upper hand in fighting climate change since developing nations are still not even able to provide for the present population. This is where the U.S. has a problem with intergenerational equity. They think developing countries should be subject to restrictions too. However, can this be so when developing countries are so poor they cannot even provide for the present generation of people?

Intergenerational equity is hard to define and measure in terms of preservation for the future since no one knows exactly what the future holds. Does said state care for past, present, and future generations and their fate on Earth and should they? Because climate change scientists can predict what is highly likely to happen in the future, funding to developing nations to adapt green technologies must be increased and readily supplied.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How Much More Urging is Needed

In a recent NY Times article, coverage was afforded Al Gore, the recent receiver of the Nobel Prize on Monday, December 10 (He won the Nobel Prize jointly with the IPCC). Once again, he gave his warnings about the immediacy and grave effects global warming will have on the planet if no action is taken. Gore talks about how we do not have to face all of the horrible backlashes of inaction if something is done soon. During Gore's talk at the Nobel Prize ceremony, he specifically highlighted the U.S. and China as two main holdouts on the Kyoto Protocol (with Australia's recent ratification). Gore urges us to "make peace with the planet."

Is anyone in the world listening? It seems as though everyone is except for the Bush Administration. The U.S. must be apart of any type of climate change treaty and must take a leadership position. Obviously this will not happen until leadership changes. All we can do now is wait.

Bush versus Science

The New York Times continues to follow the climate change talks in Bali. Currently the United States and the European Union remain at odds. The EU wants to commit to definite cuts in emissions and set actual targets, while the United States does not believe in the necessity of specified abatements. The talks in Bali involve renegotiating Kyoto, discussing possible new emission cuts, and creating a framework and time for a new Kyoto. A possible scheduled year is 2009 for new Kyoto-like talks.

Picking 2009 as a date for the "new" Kyoto is no coincidence. Climate change advocates are specifically waiting for Bush to leave office. They will not even have to worry if another Republican becomes president, since most have some sort of plan to take on climate change as specified in a previous post. Ban Ki moon, the secretary General of the United Nations said, "the situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically.” Stavros Dimas, the EU's environmental commissioner asserted , “logic requires that we listen to the science.” “I would expect others to follow that logic.” Obviously Bush is not listening to the hard facts of science which is absolutely laughable. Maybe our president should go see An Inconvenient Truth, although I doubt this will happen anytime soon. To avoid science is to profess ignorance.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Surprise Surprise Surprise

In a New York Times article by AP, the fact that the United States plans to continue along a unilateral track in regards to climate change was highlighted. There is a UN climate change meeting going on right now in Bali at which the U.S. communicated their intentions retain a voluntary approach to rectifying climate change. Last September, the U.S. initiated climate change talks entitled Major Economies, in which the U.S. invited 16 other major economies. The NY Times article acknowledges the fact that this is the Bush Administrations way of undermining Kyoto talks. However, the scale of these talks are no where near the magnitude of Kyoto which necessitates 36 countries to cut emissions.

The fact the Bush Administration even acknowledged climate change is promising, however, the Major Economies talks definitely undermine Kyoto. Cooperation under one auspices is needed to meet the obstacles of climate change. By creating a completely different framework convention to discuss climate change is a waste of time. Watson, the U.S. representative at the UN talks in Bali, says that he does not know how Kyoto and Major Economies will converge, therefore stating, out right, the ill intentions of the Bush Administration. Obviously Bush couldn't avoid climate change anymore because of scientific consensus, so therefore this is his way of wasting time since his Administration is out the door.