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Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
Except in certain benighted precincts - oil-industry-funded Web sites, the Bush White House, Michael Crichton’s den - no one wastes much energy these days trying to deny global warming.
Credit Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” or this winter’s snowless ski season in the Alps, or the fact that it was seventy-two degrees in Central Park on January 6th. Still, the release last week of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change represents an important, perhaps even historic, event.
Founded in 1988, the I.P.C.C. is a joint venture of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. Every four or five years, it conducts an exhaustive survey of the available data and issues a multi-volume assessment of the state of the climate. By the time the I.P.C.C. publishes an assessment, it has been vetted by thousands of scientists, as well as by the organization’s hundred and ninety-odd participating governments. The process guarantees that I.P.C.C. reports are conservative-indeed, frequently out of date-since every statement has had to pass review not just in Paris and London but also in Riyadh and Washington. ..
All that is at issue — and it is critically at issue — is how disastrous the change will be. Already enough CO2 has been pumped into the air to alter life on earth for thousands of years to come. To continue on our current path because the alternative seems like too much effort is not just shortsighted. It’s suicidal.
(5 Feb 2007)
Hat tip to David Roberts.
Inuit Accuse US of Destroying Their Way of Life with Global Warming
Andrew Buncombe, Independent / UK via Common Dreams
A delegation of Inuit is to travel to Washington DC to provide first-hand testimony of how global warming is destroying their way of life and to accuse the Bush administration of undermining their human rights.
The delegation, representing Inuit peoples from the US, Canada, Russia and Greenland, will argue that the US's energy policies and its position as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases is having a devastating effect on their communities. Melting sea ice, rising seas and the impact on the animals they rely on for food threatens their existence.
The Inuit's efforts to force the US to act are part of an unprecedented attempt to link climate change to international human rights laws.
(9 Feb 2007)
'Doomsday vault' to resist global warming effects
Agence France Presse
An Arctic "doomsday vault" aimed at providing mankind with food in case of a global catastrophe will be designed to sustain the effects of climate change, the project's builders said as they unveiled the architectural plans.
The top-security repository, carved into the permafrost of a mountain in the remote Svalbard archipelago near the North Pole, will preserve some three million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's crops.
The hope is that the vault will make it possible to re-establish crops obliterated by major disasters.
(9 Feb 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.
Related: Unveiling the Doomsday Vault Design (WorldChanging).
Bush Ripped on Global Warming
Luke O'Brien, Wired
WASHINGTON -- Congress continued to probe allegations Wednesday that the Bush administration tried to muzzle government scientists on climate change and suppress scientific research, including a comprehensive report in 2000 on global warming's impact on the United States.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers weighed in with harsh words for an administration that has come under fire in the 110th Congress for its stance on climate change.
"One incidence of political tampering with science is too many," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the committee chairman, referring to a survey released last week by two advocacy groups that showed widespread political interference in research related to global warming.
(7 Feb 2007)
Angela Merkel -- the new climate leader?
Christoph Bals, SF Chronicle
President Bush, so far, has shown little leadership on climate change. This was not changed when he publicly acknowledged climate change in his January State of the Union address. Will Angela Merkel fill the gap? As German chancellor, she holds European Union presidency until the end of June and G8 presidency until the end of the year. During these twin presidencies, she can influence many events that might be crucial to the future of climate change.
...If any international leader can take the lead in the global climate debate, Merkel can -- or certainly has the opportunity to do so. As a physicist and the former minister of environment who negotiated the Kyoto Protocol for Germany, she knows that the basic science of climate change is no longer in dispute. She also knows that the scale and urgency of the challenge the world faces is worse than originally feared. And that tackling climate change is an imperative, not a choice; a problem for today, not tomorrow.
Merkel, however, is leader of the Christian Democratic Party, which largely listens to industry. Last summer, she laid the cornerstone for the biggest lignite coal power plant in the world in western Germany. In the last few weeks, she supported the German auto industry's call to waterdown carbon-dioxide reduction targets proposed for the car industry.
On the other hand, increasingly, industry, banks and insurers are urging her to take climate change seriously, and open the door to the next industrial revolution. The German public, likewise, is calling for serious steps to slow climate change.
(9 Feb 2007)
WSJ writes that gas taxes make sense
Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
"What is the most economically sound way for the government to encourage development of alternatives to fossil fuels?"
* Taxes that raise the cost of purchasing fossil fuels: 54%
...The above numbers come from a poll of market economists who are asked their opinion on various macro-economic topics.
...The core issue is that energy is currently not priced correctly, and is thus cheaper than it should be - and we therefore, naturally, use more than we could and should.
Now I know that saying that it is "cheaper than it should be" sounds pretty bad, so let me explain.
We ARE paying more for our energy than we think we are. It's just that this cost does not appear as a monetary price when we actually buy the gas. It is paid in indirect ways...
(9 Feb 2007)
UPDATE: Just added this item.