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Dateline: USA. Spring 2011 (Combined N(y)o͞oz Services)

Record breaking wildfires devastate Texas ... ... Over half an Iowa town dessimated by tornadoes: "It was huge, just huge," said Thomas Mohrhauser, an attorney in the town of about 1,200 people. "It just kept getting bigger and bigger." ... With temperatures heating up across Southwest Colorado, the American Red Cross and all fire and emergency entities in the region actively prepare for wildfires ... National Guard helicopters battle Oklahoma fires  ... America's heartland braces for week of severe weather ... Weather experts anticipate loss of lives due to xtreme weather resulting from slow moving weather system ...

Outliers? Black swan events? No way.

What's it gonna take for mainstream America to shrug off the 'xpertly constructed Climate Denier Cape & reconnect with the reality of real life experience?

In a week when news of a magnificent merger of 350.org and 1SKY (and the emergence of the powerful voice of activist Naomi Klein as a board member of this 'new phase' of climate activism) paralleled  the mind-numbingly nuanced and politically top-heavy itsy bitsy step forward at the end of Bangkok's international climate negotiations, I say its time for a revolution in thinking on climate change. Not only do we have to change the lingo, we have to change the goal.

And it looks like Klein agrees with me:

...  it's not enough to dreamily imagine the world we want. We also have to confront, head on, the forces that are determined to use their power and wealth to stop us. Which is why 350.org just launched a campaign targeting the deeply anti-democratic influence that major polluters have over the political process in Washington, starting with the biggest fish of them all, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (chamber.350.org).

I see this campaign as a breakthrough moment in the history of the climate movement, recognition that the struggles for economic justice, real democracy and a livable climate are all profoundly interconnected. As 350.org founder Bill McKibben puts it: unless we go after the "money pollution," no campaign against real pollution stands a chance. The same can be said for any progressive goal, from labor rights to net neutrality. As we recognize these (and many other) connections among our various "issues," I am convinced that a new kind of climate movement will emerge, one that is larger, deeper and more powerful than anything we have seen yet. There is no question that 350.org will be helping to lead the way, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

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Well, I have an idea for Klein & Co. How 'bout we put Kyoto on the back burner? How 'bout we roll out a "Climate Justice Protocol?"

In a recent article in PCIs Energy Bulletin Confronting Climate Collapse, renowned environmental scholar David Orr suggests that how we think about climate destabilization significantly influences how we talk about it. Jargon --  like 'building resilience', 'risk management', 'adaptation', and 'win-win' -- signal our unwillingness to do little more than fiddle with the engine when what we really need is to thoroughly and sincerely engage in an "About face. Forward March!

Afterall, as Orr says,  we are not just facing global warming;  we are dealing with the reality that everything is approaching meltdown. And the fallout from our inability to confront this head on, our casualness in the face of dire scientific warnings of irrevocable planetary disaster, is quite frankly astounding!

We are reaching the point, Orr contends, where more and more frequent high consequence events (termed 'black swans' by risk analyst Nassim Taleb) threaten long-term irreversible results.  

Raymond J. Kopp, senior fellow and director of the Center for Climate and Electricity Policy at Resources for the Future,  issued a report earlier this week  “The Climate Has Changed—So Must Policy,”, in which he suggests the need for an "evolution of international efforts to formulate global climate policy and speculates about what shape an alternative to the UNFCCC treaty might take."

After 20 years of the UNFCCC process, Kopp notes, it's time for the big polluters to bite the bullet, agree to "acceptable levels of economic growth", and design a deal anchored by a "pledge and review" process in which a major polluting country "pledges its climate mitigation actions, and pledges are reviewed (and new pledges are made) at a future date. Countries’ commitments would be inevitably linked because their competitive positions and prospects for economic growth are interrelated.”

We ought to ask why the market—skewed to the advantage of corporations and the super wealthy—is allowed to trump the rights of our descendents to “life, liberty, and property” which presupposes climate stability. We ought to ask why the ideology of markets has so thoroughly saturated our language, thought, morality, and behavior so that we can hardly imagine any other standard for human conduct and national policy beyond short-term pecuniary advantage. We ought to ask why our leaders remain so deferential to predatory bankers, financiers, and corporate tycoons who nearly collapsed the global economy in 2008. We ought to ask why human nature, or just the nature of the American sub-species, is so vulnerable to the “merchants of denial.” Answers to such questions would get us close to the roots of the problem which is found in the unholy alliance between corporations, the communications industry, government, the military, and security organizations much as Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 farewell address.

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Reframing the COP: Conference of the Parties= Conference of Polluters

In the run up to the next COP in Durban, Patrick Bond, Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, believes the upcoming UN talks in South Africa are more aptly described as a "Conference Of Polluters" and calls for an end to business of usual by igniting the flames of the climate justice movement.

Real solutions to the climate crisis, Bond says, entail massive cuts in emissions, decommissioning carbon markets, climate debt repayment and transfer of clean energy technology to the Global South. The World Bank (interim Green Climate Fund trustee), he says, has no place in the solution and will be a central target for mobilizations in Durban. (See Dispatches from Dakar)

Next Step: Montreal Climate Justice Conference

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Developing Countries Step In Where Richer Nations Fear to Tread

BANGKOK, Apr 8, 2011 (IPS) - Led by countries like Indonesia, 48 developing nations are rolling out a range of pledges to voluntarily cut their respective emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2020, the year climate scientists say the earth’s rising temperature should peak by if an environmental catastrophe is to be avoided.

Indonesian negotiators confirmed during a U.N. climate change conference here that Jakarta is prepared to cut its GHG emissions by 26 percent on its own accord. But that is not all: the world’s most populous Muslim country is prepared to increase emissions cuts to 41 percent if it receives development assistance that industrialised nations have committed to providing.

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PowerShift 2011: Make Polluters Pay

Perhaps the grassroots effort behind PowerShift 2011, a youth movement designed to train and energize thousands of young people to organize large actions, serves a a model for mobilizing large crowds to take out the culprits participating for 20 years now in the quicksand of the UNFCCC process.

"WE NEED YOU to make this moment possible," they announce on their website. "Do you have experience with steering crowds? Do you have a bike? EMT training? A love for Actions? We have a role for you. We need your help and skills to make this happen."

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"We must have the courage to speak the truth and the vision and fortitude to chart a plausible way forward," writes Orr. "The truth of the matter is that even in the best scenarios imaginable, we would still have a long and difficult road ahead before climate stabilizes again, hopefully within a range still hospitable to us. It is also true that we have the capability to make the transition to economies powered by sunlight and efficiency. The point is not to be gloomy or cheery, but to be truthful and get to work."

Green Diary Rescue

Stay connected with the amazing work of DK4's eco community, which is chronicalled each Saturday afternoon when Meteor Blades publishes the weekly Green Diary Rescue. Yesterday's diary: Green diary rescue: Building a movement against the power of the fossil-fuel juggernaut

Climate Change News Roundup

Climate Change Action

  • Climate agenda agreed in Bangkok but Kyoto’s future remains uncertain
    BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Negotiators from 176 nations managed to hammer out an agenda meant to shape climate change talks for the rest of the year in Bangkok on Friday evening but concerns remain over the long-term future of the Kyoto Protocol.
    “This agenda is the fruit of many hours of intensive discussions and engagements and it is an achievement we must keep,” Jorge Arguello, Argentina’s ambassador to the U.N. said on behalf of the G-77 countries and China at the closing plenary session.
    U.N. climate change chief Christiana Figueres also said in a statement, “I believe we now have a solid basis to move forward collectively and that governments can deliver further good results this year, provided every effort is made to compromise and show the necessary flexibility to achieve that goal.”

    Yet, The Malaysia Star's  comprehensive article New Battle Lines drawn cites the success of developing countries in the North-South battle  in negotiationing that the Bali Action Plan remains as the framework for future talks. The Small Island Developing State (SIDS) Tuvalu led the revolt, demanded that all countries NOT committing to Kyoto II leave the room.

    The Philippines said the KP was “in an intensive care unit and that instead of being given life-saving oxygen, its respirators are connected to a tank of carbon-dioxide”.
    The countries also said that if there was no commitment to a second KP period, there was little point in negotiating other issues in the parallel working group on long-term cooperative action (LCA).
    Under this group, developed countries have put developing countries under intense pressure to take emission-reduction actions.
  • Slow-onset climate change a huge risk to food supply - FAO
    LONDON (AlertNet) - Failure to prepare for the impact of slow-onset climate changes could have catastrophic effects on food production, according to a new study by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
    "Currently the world is focused on dealing with shorter-term climate impacts caused mainly by extreme weather events," said Alexander Muller, FAO’s assistant director-general for natural resources. “This is absolutely necessary.”
    But more gradual climate impacts – such as the emergence of prolonged droughts – could create much bigger challenges by fundamentally altering ecosystems and leading to long-term loss of productive land.
    That could bring “potentially disastrous impacts on food security” starting in 2050 to 2100, he said.
    To avoid that, “we must already today support agriculture in the developing world to become more resilient,” Muller said.
  • Climate Conversations - What's the secret of success in climate policy?
    Put 150 experts on climate change and development from some 40 countries together in an Oxford college. Add copious amounts of Lego blocks, an open "marketplace" for discussions, a "walk in nature", some shining examples of climate projects that have worked and inspirational speeches on how to effect change. Infuse for four days.

    The result? Close to 25 "prototype" ideas to help developing countries tackle climate change, as well as a budding community of policy-makers, entrepreneurs, researchers and politicians fired up to build understanding and innovative responses to climate change.

    This week's "Action Lab" was organised by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), an international alliance of business and non-governmental organisations set up with funding from the British and Dutch governments to help decision-makers in poorer nations design and deliver climate change strategies.

    CLIMATE CHANGE & ENERGY

    • Dr Chu takes part in International Initiatives targeting a Clean Energy Future (by jamess)
      Here's some good news on the Clean Energy front.  The U.S.A. was an active participant, in the latest International Meeting of the minds, on how to best tackle the Clean Energy and CO2 problems, we all face.
      Looks like the days of the Kyoto foot-shuffling, may finally be behind us.  Hopefully.
      Secretary Chu Announces Progress on International Initiatives to Promote Clean Energy
    • Transforming Sustainable Energy in Afghanistan
      ... Rustaqi and his team could never have gone to the countryside dressed as they typically would for work at a Kabul-based renewable-power firm called Sustainable Energy Services Afghanistan (SESA); to bandits, who are as common on Afghan highways as rest stops are on American ones, engineers look like ATMs. "If anyone asks, 'Who are you?' we tell them we are laborers," says Rustaqi. "If they get engineers, they cut off their heads. You know the Taliban: stupid people."

      Get in, get the windmills up and running, get out as quickly as possible -- that's the basic game plan for each job. This mission, in Taliban territory, did not go smoothly. Partway through the afternoon, gunfire exploded in the air, followed by sirens crying out through the hills. Suddenly, a convoy of Afghan National Army vehicles sped by the work site. As the sounds of a firefight grew around them, Rustaqi was tempted to seek shelter. "It was very dangerous!" he says. But he had two engineers 100 feet up a half-finished windmill. "We couldn't leave our friends up there. We just kept working." (continue reading)

    • AWEA Report Shows Wind Industry on a Path of Continued Growth
      The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released its 2010 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report which discovered growth in the country's wind sector.

      According to the AWEA, the U.S. wind power sector was up 15% from 2009. The U.S. added 5,116 MW of wind power generation which represents 26% of all new electric generating capacity in 2010. Since 2007 new wind generation has accounted for 35% of all new generating capacity.

      The reason for the growth is simple according to Elizabeth Salerno, Director of Data and Analysis and Chief Economist for AWEA: “It’s costing less than ever, and competing with other sources thanks to improved turbines built for better performance without a big price tag.” With companies like Vestas, which recently unvieled a 7 MW wind turbine, manufacturers are continuing to improve both the efficiency and generating capability of their turbines.

    • Alberta conservation plan stuns oil patch
      The Alberta government has proposed new environmental rules that would revoke a number of oil sands leases – including those which already have active projects – in an effort to protect sensitive habitat, wildlife and forest land in the most industrialized area of the province.

      The government on Tuesday unveiled a plan to set aside two million hectares, or about 20 per cent, of Alberta’s oil sands zone, for conservation. Lease maps of the oil sands show that a number of major energy producers have properties in the area, including Nexen Inc., (NXY-T23.870.070.29%) Suncor Energy Inc., (SU-T44.671.383.19%) Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ-T47.280.881.90%) and Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO-T52.671.362.65%)

    CLIMATE CHANGE POLITICS

    • Rein in Rand Paul: On mountaintop renewal

      In the middle of his campaign for U.S. Senate last summer, Rand Paul expressed in blunt terms his view of the controversial coal mining practice that has made mountain lovers unlucky in Kentucky. As reported by Details magazine in its profile of the candidate:  

          Paul believes mountaintop removal just needs a little rebranding. "I think they should name it something better," he says. "The top ends up flatter, but we're not talking about Mount Everest. We're talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here.

      In a TV interview a little while later he explained his support for mountaintop removal, saying: "I don’t think anyone’s going to be missing a hill or two here and there."

    • EU plans to link emissions trading scheme with California.
      Europe's commissioner for climate action on Tuesday confirmed for the first time plans to link theEU emissions trading scheme (ETS) with California's carbon market which opens next year.

      Connie Hedegaard met with California's governor, Jerry Brown, and Mary Nicholls, who chairs the Californian Air Resources Board, in Sacramento to discuss how future co-operation might work to join the world's largest and second largest carbon markets.

      She said: "We told Governor Brown that we would very much like to co-operate with them so that no matter how California constructs their scheme, it is linkable to the way we do things in Europe. It doesn't have to be identical, just compatible."

    WATER & NATURAL RESOURCES

    • Artificial Reefs Around the World: 27 Photos"
      For years now, governments around the world have been sinking large pieces of outdated or damaged equipment into the ocean, turning them into artificial reefs. Subway cars, naval ships, tanks and more rest on the sea floor, making homes for sea life and attracting divers. Artists have been busy as well, erecting underwater sculptures and memorials. Collected here are images from the past few years of some of these man-made reefs, both big and small. [27 photos].
    • New to Nature No 37: Heliotrygon stingrays
      Two new stingrays found in the Amazon are not only revealing much about the species but are also proving great indicators of ecological change
    • As Larger Animals Decline, Forests Feel Their Absence
      With giant tortoises, elephants, and other fruit-eating animals disappearing from many of the world’s tropical woodlands, forests are suffering from the loss of a key function performed by these creatures: the dispersal of tree seeds. But a new experiment shows that introduced species may be able to fulfill this vital ecological role.
    • Mushrooms, Rice Husks, and Buckwheat - Replacements for Plastic?
      Styrofoam is product designer Eben Bayer's particular pet peeve. He calls it "toxic white stuff," and in his TED video says that production of a single cubic foot of styrofoam uses the energy equivalent of 1.5 liters of petrol.

      On a global scale, that's a lot of oil going into a material that's often used once before ending up in the trash—which helps explain how it takes up 25 percent of U.S. landfill space.

      So Bayer wanted to find a replacement for it—a material that a), can be created anywhere, b), uses significantly less energy to produce (he's not talking just 10-percent reductions here), and c), can fit into what he calls "nature's recycling system."

      And he did, when he and his partner, Gavin McIntyre, discovered the magic of mushrooms. Bayer says mycelium is analogous to a mushroom's root structure, and describes it as a self-assembling material: it takes things we would consider waste, like seed husks or woody biomass, and forms it into a polymer that can then be molded just like plastic is.
       

    WILDLIFE & ENDANGERED SPECIES

    • Disappearing American bats are worth up to $53 billion
      Bats eat a lot of bugs. Here are some living under a bridge in Austin, Texas that eat millions of pounds of pests every season. What happens if those bats are wiped out in a few years -- as it looks like they could be -- by a combination of wind turbines and a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome?

      A lot more bug bites, and between $3 billion and $53 billion in losses to agriculture in the U.S.

      Ecosystem services -- everything nature takes care of so we don't have to -- are easy to forget about until they're gone. A new analysis by Paul Cryan of the U.S. Geological Survey extrapolated those values from an acre-by-acre record of the effects of bats on the cotton-eating boll weevil. In bad years, the weevils can cost farmers up to $172 per acre in extra pesticide; that's where the high-end figure comes from

    • Judge blocks deal on protections for wolves
      BOISE, Idaho – A federal judge has denied a proposed settlement agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 10 conservation groups that would have lifted endangered species protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho.

      U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula on Saturday rejected the agreement that could have led to public hunting of some 1,300 wolves in the two states.

    • New method to measure threat of extinction could help conservationists prioritize
      Researchers have developed a new method to predict how close species are to extinction. Dubbed SAFE (Species Ability to Forestall Extinction) the researchers believe the new tool, published in the Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, should help conservationists select which species to focus on saving and which, perhaps controversially, should be let go.
    • ECO JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS

      • Rush to Use Crops as Fuel Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears.
        Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream.

        (snip)

        But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.

      • Climate Conversations - Is this a climate change issue or a human rights issue?

        This question was asked by a participant during a debrief from our field trip to Chapai Nawabganj district - a drought affected area northwest of Dhaka, Bangladesh, close to India. This field trip was part of the 5th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change, being held in Bangladesh this week.

        We had been driven for seven hours from Dhaka through hair-raising traffic to see some of the practical approaches that Caritas was using in their work with the Oraon Adivasi people. The Oraon Adivasi (an Indian tribal group) struggle to access both drinking water and water for their crops.

      • Education for Nomads: Voices of the People
        One of several short videosswhich explore how climate change is impacting  dryland pastoralist societies. A part of the Education for NomadsProject.
      • CDCF Toolkit launched at the Africa Carbon Forum, Nairobi
        The toolkit was developed to enable different stakeholders to better understand carbon finance and how it can be linked into community development projects ... To find out more and to download the toolkit please visit the project page.

      TIPS FOR LIVING IN A CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD

       

      Get the eKos widget embed code!

      *Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey, who was recently awarded the ‘alternative Nobel Peace Prize’ the Right Livelihood Award for his work in Nigeria. Saturday, March 5. 6 Billion Ways.

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Originally posted to Climate Change News Roundup on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Earthship Koch, Beyond Kyoto, and E-V Guide.

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