Archive for the 'International' Category

Dec 13 2010

A Deal on Climate Change in Cancun

Cancun, via wikimedia

The most recent climate change conference kept observers in suspense up until the last day.   Though a draft agreement had been written, debates still raged surrounding the details, specifically the fate of the Kyoto Protocol.  Yet in the last hours of the conference a modest agreement was finalized, over objections by Bolivia.  All but one of the 194 countries represented signed onto the document, which was based on the Copenhagen climate accord and formalized within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The provisions record commitments countries have made for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sets up a “Green Climate Fund” for developing nations, and provides initiatives for reducing deforestation.  The biggest success was for the host country’s leader, Espinosa, who received several standing ovations and was credited with renewing faith in the process.  However, the decision on the Kyoto Protocol has been put off until next year’s conference.  The articles below give more news from the conference’s wrap-up.

NY Times: “Climate Talks End with Modest Deal on Emissions”

CANCÚN, Mexico — The United Nations climate change conference adopted a package of measures early Saturday aimed at tempering the effects of a warming planet, breathing new life into a process that many had declared moribund.

Although the steps taken here were fairly modest and do not mandate the broad changes that scientists say are needed to prevent dangerous climate change in coming decades, the result was a major step forward for a process that has stumbled badly in recent years.

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Nov 29 2010

One More Round: Plans for Another Climate Change Conference

Cacun, Mexico where the summit will be held, via wikimedia

Previous international summits on climate change, including the last one in Copenhagen, have produced more conflict than solutions.  So, for the next summit in Cancun, Mexico, attendees are keeping expectations low even as the effects of climate change are being felt around the world, including in our own backyard. The chances of getting a legally binding agreement out of the summit are extremely low.  Conflicts between developing and developed nations over emission reduction efforts haven’t been resolved and since the last summit, scientists have determined that greenhouse gases reached record levels last year.  Instead, the goal will be to focus on subsidies for developing nations to help them achieve growth with less GHG emissions.

BBC: “Modest Hopes for Climate Summit as Gas Levels Rise”

“Keeping the show on the road” may be all governments can hope for at next week’s UN climate talks, the UK admits.

Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne said there was no chance of getting a legally binding deal at the summit in Cancun, Mexico.

The aim, he said, should be to get “within shouting distance”.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released data showing that greenhouse gas levels continued their rise through 2009.

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Nov 26 2010

Update on the Tiger Summit

Published by under Animal,International

Bengal Tiger, via wikimedia commons

On October 25, I first wrote about an international summit to save the tiger.  That summit, the highest-level gathering ever held on behalf of a single species, has been completed, with some significant success.  The leaders of the 13 nations that make up the tiger’s range came to St. Petersburg to discuss measures that could be taken to bring the tiger back from the brink of extinction.  The most significant goal reached was for doubling the tiger population by 2022, a plan which was approved by Russia and China on Tuesday.  Tigers, which only have about 3,200 individuals in the wild and three subspecies that have already gone extinct, are threatened by habitat loss and poaching.  Both problems are very hard to stop police.  Pressure is also being placed on private actors such as Apple who uses the iconic animals on their software.  Below are more articles regarding this historical step toward saving the tiger.

Scientific American: “Russia, China Pledge to Save the Tigers”

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday agreed with other Asian nations to try to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022 and save it from extinction.

Just 3,200 tigers now live in the wild, down from 100,000 a century ago, and those that remain face a losing battle with poachers who supply traders in India and China with tiger parts for traditional medicines and purported aphrodisiacs.

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Nov 22 2010

Think Globally, Act Locally: Climate Change Action around the World

by Robert Simmon, based on data from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (via Wikimedia Commons)

As the effects of global climate change are being felt around the world, nations are beginning to take action, with each country focusing on its own goals and methods for reaching them.  Certain nations are taking a strong leadership role and thinking of creative solutions for the problems facing them.  Reflecting this renewed focus, the United States has also just completed a conference hearing on the issue with three panels of climate experts testifying before the Subcommittee on Energy & Environment.  Also, several states in the US have moved forward with plans on dealing with climate change.  From the Marshall Islands cutting 40% of their already minimal emissions to New York state planning to shift development to accommodate rising sea levels, the below articles deal with international actions on climate change.

Scientific American: “New York State Begins Planning for Sea Level Rise”

NEW YORK — New York state is beginning to take the threat of sea level rise attributed to climate change seriously as a new government prepares to settle in next year.

Starting Monday, state officials in Albany will gather with members of the public to discuss a recently released 93-page report that recommends major changes to development planning and conservation along coastlines from the tip of Long Island all way up the Hudson River Valley.

Any reforms to come from the process, starting next week, would affect about 62 percent of New York state’s population, the proportion estimated to reside now in areas that could be hard hit as rising land and ocean temperatures raise average sea levels around the globe.

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Nov 01 2010

Hot Topics This Week

The black-footed ferret hunts prairie dogs

A judge’s ruling stops a town from poisoning a colony of prairie dogs because they’re a food source for the black-footed ferret.

In 2006, a rancher named Larry Haverfield refused to poison the prairie dogs on the 10,000 acre ranch he owns in Logan County, Kansas.  He also refused to allow county workers onto his land to let them poison the prairie dogs, despite his neighbors’ anger.  His reasons were that even though he didn’t like the prairie dogs personally, he knew they were food for animals like the black-footed ferret, the most endangered animals in North America, a colony of which were released on Mr. Haverfield’s property.  In 2008, Logan County sued Mr. Haverfield, invoking a law from 1901 that allowed them to enter private property to poison the prairie dogs without the owner’s permission.  Now, a district judge has ruled against Logan County and found that the Endangered Species Act takes precedence over the 1901 state law the County was referring to.  Judge Lively stated that the exterminating all the prairie dogs on the property would also exterminate all the black-footed ferrets on the property, thus violating the ESA.  The ferrets, which were thought to be extinct in the 1970s, both live in the prairie dogs’ burrows and eat the prairie dogs themselves.  Therefore, areas with high prairie dog populations are ideal places to reintroduce the ferrets into the wild.  Prairie dogs, however, are considered a nuisance because they clear the tall grass that ranchers would use to graze their cattle on.  Poisoning and shooting the dogs are considered common means of controlling their population and the vast majority of ranchers employ these methods to keep the “pests” off of their property.  With Mr. Haverfield’s decision, conservationists have truly gained a unusual and invaluable ally. Continue Reading »

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Oct 25 2010

Hot Topics This Week

Mountaintop removal mining

The EPA is moving forward with its plans to revoke a mining permit for the largest mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia: Spruce No. 1.

Environmentalists are cautiously rejoicing as the Environmental Protection Agency takes a step toward vetoing a permit for the highly contended Spruce 1 mountaintop removal coal mine, which would be run by Arch Coal.  If it went through, it would be the largest mine of its kind ever stretching 2,278 acres; an economic boon to the county but an environmental disaster according to some.  The permit in question, one required under the Clean Water Act that would allow the mine to use “valley fills” to dump the materials removed during the mining process, was granted in 2007 under the Bush administration, but the EPA is considering whether to veto that permit before the mine can get fully underway.  The concern is that the coal sludge and mountain debris that is produced by the process of mountaintop removal mining would be pushed into the valleys, destroying streams and potentially infecting the water system.  Arch Coal has proposed that they create new streams to replace the ones filled in, but the EPA is concerned that those streams couldn’t replicate the diversity of fish and plants that are currently supported by the natural streams.  With the high amount of biodiversity in the region, this is a real concern.  A final decision is expected by the end of this year. Continue Reading »

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