Year 4, Month 9, Day 14: Well, That’ll Make Them Sit Up And Take Notice

The Sowetan (South Africa) alerts us to a resolution from the Pacific Island Nations:

Pacific island nations on Thursday night signed a declaration promising action on climate change to counter “the greatest threat to the security, livelihoods and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific.”

The declaration was agreed at a forum in Majuro, the capital of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

“We want our Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership to be a game-changer in the global fight against climate change,” said Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak. “We need the rest of the world to follow the Pacific’s lead.”

A number of commitments were made in the declaration. The Cook Islands pledged to have 50 per cent of electricity needs met by renewable energy by 2015; the Federated States of Micronesia said it would decrease the import and use of imported petroleum by 50 per cent by 2020; and Niue said it aimed to have 100 per cent of its electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020.

I’m recycling today. September 7:

The Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership underlines a cruel irony: the nations most immediately affected by climate change are almost always the ones contributing least to the carbon footprint of our industrialized civilization. While planetary temperatures continue to rise and polar ice continues to melt, the world’s largest developed countries seem paralyzed in the face of the crisis. By geographical serendipity, many of these superpowers are less immediately threatened by extreme weather and the profound climatic transformations now endangering Pacific island nations, which apparently makes it easier for them to ignore or downplay their responsibilities to the international community.

Island states, on climate change’s front lines, have no such luxury. Christopher Loeak is correct in calling on the rest of the world to follow the lead of the Pacific nations, for while there may still be time to mitigate the worst of the coming storms, there is none to waste in petro-political posturing.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 8, Day 22: Skerble Wop Derp, Herp Wing Derblewop!

The Manila Standard (Philippines) notes the 2012 World Risk Report:

Just recently, the Alliance Development Works, United Nations University and The Nature Conservancy released the 2012 World Risk Report, which ranked the all countries according to their vulnerability to risk. In this report, the Philippines was identified as the third highest disaster risk hotspot in the world, the result of combining a high exposure to natural hazards and climate change with a very vulnerable society. The Philippines comes after Vanuatu and Tonga, which were ranked first and second, respectively.

That the Philippines is ranked so high in the World Risk Index may actually seem both fitting and ironic. It is fitting because given the country’s high exposure to the risks brought about by climate change, the government responded quickly by putting in place policies aimed at addressing these risks. The Philippines is one of the first few countries that came out with definite climate change policies, and actually enacted laws on climate change. At the same time however, it may seem ironic because despite such an acknowledgement of these risks, there still seems to be a rather raw understanding of climate change in general, and what is needed to address it.

The Climate Change Act established the Climate Change Commission in 2009, and gave it the task of coordinating climate change-related actions and policies. As part of its mandate, the CCC produced the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change, and the National Climate Change Action Plan. The even more recent establishment of the People’s Survival Fund, meanwhile, provides an avenue for the management of climate financing at the national level.

Calling out the lying liars is always appropriate. July 30:

That there is still widespread ignorance of the causes and consequences of planetary climate change in this day and age is no longer something that can be attributed to chance. The effects of an intensifying greenhouse effect triggered by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are all around us. It is a sad irony that the Philippines and other island nations are most at risk from these phenomena, despite contributing essentially nothing to the problem.

For some decades there has been active collusion between multinational fossil-fuel corporations and the majority of the world’s print and broadcast news outlets. The American journalist A.J. Liebling’s quip, “Freedom of the press is only guaranteed to those who own one,” tells almost the whole story. Equipped with unimaginable sums of money and the respectful attention of the world’s leaders, these corporate miscreants have corrupted and diluted public discussion of an environmental crisis from the worst possible motivation: to protect their already grotesquely large profits. It’s their greed versus humanity’s need.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 6, Day 20: Contending In Vain

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that island nations have more than rising seas to worry about:

The delegation of parliamentarians from four tropical Pacific Islands nations braved the Canberra cold last week, and that wasn’t the only climate shock they suffered.

They watched the impressive intellectual exchange of question time in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and then moved on. But almost as soon as they left, Parliament started to debate a motion on whether the science of man-made climate change was real. This came as a bit of a jolt to the legislator visiting from Kiribati, a country of about 100,000 people on 33 small, low-lying islands strung along 5000 kilometres of the equator.

“Climate change is real in our places,” Rimeta Beniamina, a government MP and vice-chairman of his parliament’s climate change committee, told me, expressing surprise at what was going on in the chamber a few metres away.

“A few years ago it was not taken very seriously. But now quite a few villages are experiencing hardship. Beaches are eroding, houses are falling down, crops are damaged and livelihoods are destroyed.

“The intrusion of salt water is very evident. The sea level may be rising millimetres a year, but it is still rising. The strong winds and rising tides are the worst part. Once the salt water enters the land, that’s it. Trees are falling along the coast, crops dying, pigs and chickens are affected.”

Finding the link for sending letters to the SMH was a nightmare all its own. June 5:

For Kiribati, the tiny Pacific island which now faces submergence beneath ominously rising seas, and whose entire carbon footprint is probably not much larger than that of a single wealthy Western consumer, rejecting the overwhelming evidence of global warming is an impossible absurdity. It is telling that nowhere but in the developed world do we find the institutionalized denial of climate science; nowhere but among the nations whose profligate greenhouse emissions triggered the problem in the first place.

Climate denialism is heavily underwritten by corporations with enormous economic interests built on a fossil-fuel-based economy. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into the coffers of a complaisant media and political establishment to perpetuate the myth that the science of climate change “isn’t settled.” For the world’s island nations, to suggest that the reality of climate change is still an unanswered question is to add gross insult to profound injury.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 10, Day 9: Your Lovin’ Give Me Such A Thrill…

The Regina Leader-Post (Canada) reports on a new study highlighting climate change’s likely effect on GDP:

Climate change and pollution related to carbon-dioxide emissions are reducing the world’s gross domestic product by 1.6 per cent a year, about $1.2 trillion US, according to a report.

If unchecked, rising temperatures may cut global GDP by 3.2 per cent a year by 2030, according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, from by the Madrid-based humanitarian group DARA and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. As the economic impact of climate change grows, so will the cost of curbing it, according to leaders of developing nations who spoke at an event in New York last week.

“What is possible with $100 billion today will cost 10 times more in 2030,” Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed said during the panel discussion, part of the Climate Week NYC conference. Her country is part of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of developing nations threatened by climate change.

A warming planet will have a disproportionate effect on developing countries, especially low-income states such as Bangladesh that have high population density and fewer natural resources.

Low-lying coastal regions also face the prospect of being submerged as the oceans rise, she said.

This will affect food production and drive up prices, she said. Climate change may cut GDP in some developing nations by as much as 11 per cent by 2030.

I would rather replace capitalism by incremental stages as we figure out a better way to do things. I hope there will be enough time. Sent October 1:

Conservative thinkers routinely claim that energy and emissions policies which address the threat of global climate change would be too expensive — an argument which makes sense as long as you don’t think too hard or too long about the issue. But if there was ever an issue which demanded long and concentrated thought, it’s the complex set of economic and environmental forces involved in our civilization’s response to the burgeoning greenhouse effect. Those who deny the scientific reality of global warming cannot expect that their cost/benefit analyses should be taken seriously.

Conversely, the nations represented in the Climate Vulnerable Forum are the ones on the front line of devastating ecological transformation. Their report on climate change’s impact on GDP offers a globally relevant version of some old home truths: a stitch in time saves nine; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If we wait to respond until Earth’s climate has transformed beyond recognition, it will cost our species far more than self-styled “fiscal conservatives” can imagine.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 2, Day 11: I’d Like To Be / Under The Sea

The Pakistani daily “Dawn” runs an article on the plans of island nations to attempt legal pressure on the irresponsible giants:

UNITED NATIONS: Small island nations, whose very existence is threatened by the rising sea levels brought about by global warming, are seeking to take the issue of climate change before the International Court of Justice.

Johnson Toribiong, president of Palau, said Friday his country and other island nations had formed an expert advisory committee to bring the issue before the U.N. General Assembly. That would allow the world court in the Hague to determine the legal ramifications of climate change under international law.

”If 20 years of climate change negotiations have taught us anything, it’s that every state sees climate change differently. For some, it is mainly an economic issue … for others it’s about geopolitics and their past or future place in the global economy, but for us it’s about survival,” Toribiong said.

”Pacific countries are in the red zone, a swell of ocean where waters have risen two or three times higher than anywhere else in the world. That differential might explain why we speak about climate change so urgently and we look to everyone in every corner of the United Nations to find a solution,” he added.

Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Colombia University and a member the advisory committee, said the idea is to have a court determination compelling developed nations to control emissions of the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming in the absence of an international treaty.

I would loooooove to see that happen. Sent February 5:

The incapacity of the developed nations to address the looming climate crisis would be pathetic if it did not hold such tragic consequences for the rest of the world. Paralyzed by the overwhelming influence of multinational corporations, the United States and its allies are unable to respond even to an obvious emergency like the plight of island nations. It’s a curious irony that even as countries like Palau, Kiribati and the Maldives unflinchingly confront the rising sea levels that may soon submerge them, the industrialized West is drowning, unawares, in a toxic flood of corporate cash and media misinformation.

Eventually, of course, those petrol-paid politicians and their enablers will discover that in the wake of the greenhouse effect, there is no safe harbor. In a sad reversal of John Donne’s maxim, even those living on the economic high ground will learn: in a climate-changed world, every nation is an island.

Warren Senders