Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 5-2-07

  • The global warming refugees are starting. Bangladeshis keep backing away from the water line. The government there is doing what it can: With the help of non-profit organizations, it is testing new salt-resistant crops, building thousands of raised shelters to protect those in the path of cyclones and trying to elevate roads and bridges above rising rivers. Leaders who once insisted that the West created the problem and should clean it up "now accept we should prepare," Nishat said. The alternative could be ugly: insufficient food, a destabilized government, internal strife that could spread past the country's borders, a massive exodus of climate refugees and more extremism, Rahman said."A person victimized and displaced will not sit idle," he predicted. "There will be organized climate-displaced groups saying, 'Why should you hang onto your place when I've lost mine and you're the one who did this?' "That," he said, "is not a pleasant scenario." Just a more and more common one in coming years.
  • Meanwhile, among those still insisting they have the luxury of waiting for those of us who created the mess to fix it, China, India, and Brazil are tying up the latest IPCC meeting, trying to put all the responsibility on US and other rich nations. They have their points, like the fact they've already reduced to Kyoto-like levels and we haven't (although some of their measurements as things like "we could have had more babies and really screwed the earth but we didn't" even if those decisions were made long before this crisis). But, as the Bangladeshis understand, that's not going to get it done, no matter how unfair we're being (and we are) because it's too late for fair and this is the wrong planet for it anyway: One other source at this week's talks said China had been so aggressive in an effort to defend itself against rising criticism about its dramatic increase in greenhouse gas output over recent years. China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases sometime before 2010, according to the International Energy Agency. "China have been cornered and they've hit back," the source said.
  • While they dither and play political games, we're looking at a rise of the world's oceans of up to 7 meters (whatever those are), according to British Columbian researchers, and we don't know if/when that will happen because our computer models are proving majorly inadequate at forecasting what's already happening. And the researchers aren't thrilled at their oh-so-measured-and-civilized country: Several of the scientists expressed dismay with the recent announcement by Canada's federal government that Canada will not try to reach the landmark emissions reduction targets set by the international Kyoto accord. "It's an absolute disgrace," said Richard Peltier, lead investigator with the group and a physicist at the University of Toronto. The research group's funding is due to run out in 2010, said McBean, and while the scientists have asked Canada's federal government for a commitment for stable future funding, they have been waiting one year for an answer. "We have no funds to start new initiatives," he told the scientists and reporters. Asked if international funding agencies will contribute money for the cryosphere research, McBean replied angrily: "Other countries contribute a lot more to international science than Canada does. We claim to be a G8 country, and we should act like one." Maybe that scientist should find out if Canada is an underdeveloped country like China and India.
  • OTOH, here's a nice piece of news. It looks like US scientists have found a better way to inventory and keep track of our "National Biomass and Carbon Dataset." Not likely to impress girls at parties, but we're going to need that as we try to figure out what to do when nobody's finally listening to Inhofe.
  • Hmm, lizards on islands may be devastated by climate change . . . Australia’s an island, and their idiot PM’s a . . . . Works for me.
  • Speaking of Australia, I realize this isn't technically a weather, water, energy story, but it explains a lot about that nation's approach to the tsunami facing them while they barbie and shrimp. The better parts: A senior Australian government lawmaker has created a furor by telling a magazine that a female politician did not deserve a leadership role because she had decided against having children. Bill Heffernan, a close friend of [idiot]Prime Minister John Howard, described Julian Gillard, the deputy leader of the opposition center-left Labor Party, as "deliberately barren." Oh, that's not all: "One of the great understandings in a community is family and the relationship between mum, dad and a bucket of nappies," he added. And what did his "close friend" think? "I'm not telling people whether they should apologize or not," Howard told Sky Television. But finally, at the end, of the story and this post, some wisdom: Gwen Gray, an Australian National University expert on women's issues and politics, pointed to a double standard.
    "I don't want to be sexist, but I've heard stories about many men up there in Parliament House who'd hardly know they had children because they spend so little time with them," Gray said. "So is there a difference between having children and spending almost no time with them and deciding not to have children in the first place?" she asked.