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2012 SkS Bi-Weekly News Roundup #3

Posted on 22 November 2012 by John Hartz

This is the third edition of a biweekly roundup of selected news articles and blog posts about climate change and its impacts. Readers are encouraged to comment on the posted articles and to provide links to other articles of importance.  

COP18: Background information

Between November 26 and December 7 about 17,000 official delegates, 7,000 representatives from non-governmental organisations and 1,500 journalists will descend on Doha, Qatar’s capital, to try to work out a climate change agreement. More than 190 countries will send representatives to the talks.

The COP18 in Qatar builds on previous climate summits. Companies and countries who want to continue emitting noxious gases into the atmosphere, causing the climate to heat up, will be working to stall a new agreement, while environmentalists and other countries will push for tougher emissions targets.

Backgrounder: How climate negotiations work Chris Arsenault, Aljazeera, Nov 18, 2012

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations

The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That’s a 40 percent increase over levels in 1750, before humans began burning fossil fuels in earnest.

CO2 Hits New High; World Could Warm 7°F by 2060 by Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, Nov 20, 2012

Impacts: Global

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world's poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change.

Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. 

"We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday.

The report, called "Turn Down the Heat," highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, according to the report.

No nation immune to climate change - World Bank By Anna Yukhananov, Reuters, Nov 19, 2012  

Impacts: India's Sunderbans Region

The reality for the region is that “it is beyond the Sundarbans to sustain 4.5 million people at decent income levels,” said Debal Roy, chief environment officer of the West Bengal government. “But development planning in our country never acknowledges science and its suggestions.”
Economists and natural scientists say the lack of planning has hurt the region as much as climate change, which is a relatively recent phenomenon that has accelerated the rate of destruction of ecosystems and livelihoods in the region.
Now natural disasters cause much greater damage, and the effects of sea-level rise and storm surges are leading to long-term, irreversible changes in soil salinity. As resources dwindle, people caught between climate change and underdevelopment have little choice but to migrate or suffer.

Poor planning, climate shifts devastating India's Sundarbans by Aditya Ghosh, Alertnet, Nov 17, 2012

Policies: US

"The best thing that could possibly come out of Sandy is if the political establishment was willing to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation about how we do this differently the next time,’ ” said Dr. Young, a coastal geologist who directs the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. “We need to identify those areas — in advance — that it no longer makes sense to rebuild.”

As Coasts Rebuild and U.S. Pays, Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why by Justin Gillis and Felicity Barringer, New York Times, Nov 18, 2012

Superstorm Sandy: Cuba

As of Nov. 12 there was still no official account of the economic damage caused by Sandy, although an estimate by the United Nations office in Cuba reckoned 137,000 houses were damaged in Santiago de Cuba, 65,000 in Holguín and 8,750 in Guantánamo, the other two eastern provinces that were most affected. 

Serious damage was suffered by industry, telecommunications, electricity and agriculture, and recovery is expected to be extremely difficult in a country trying to bolster its weakened economy, and that in 2008 was ravaged by three hurricanes, which caused 10 billion dollars in losses.

Tomorrow Is Too Late for Adaptation to Climate Change by Partricia Grogg, Inter Press Service (IPS), Nov 20, 2012

Superstorm Sandy: Impacts

Day and night, victims of Hurricane Sandy have been streaming into ad hoc emergency rooms and relief centers, like the MASH-type medical unit on an athletic field in Long Beach, and the warming tent in the Rockaways the size of a small high school gym.

Storm Victims, in Cleanup, Face Rise in Injuries and Illness by Anemona Hartocollis and Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, Nov 20, 2012

Superstorm Sandy: What lies ahead?

"The Australians have a mantra for battling climate change: Protect, Redesign, Rebuild, Elevate, Relocate and Retreat. Guy Nordenson, a New York engineer who has spent years researching the subject, talks about controlling floods and controlled flooding, accepting that the water will ultimately get in. This means thinking like the Australians, long term about evolving nature. Our election cycle tends to thwart infrastructural improvements that can take decades and don’t provide short-term ribbon-cutting payoffs for politicians, which is why it’s a wry commonplace among engineers and architects that autocratic regimes make the most aggressive builders of massive projects."

Vetoing Business as Usual After the Storm by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, Nov 19, 2012

Winter Shifts: Northern Alaska

The consequences of the record loss of Arctic sea ice this past summer are becoming clear to the 4,000 or so residents of Barrow, Alaska, who have seen a much milder and snowier-than-average start to their typically long and bitterly cold winter season.

As Sea Ice Declines, Winter Shifts in Northern Alaska by Andrew Feedman, Climate Central, Nov 19, 2012

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. There is something surreal about this weeks news. Every story concerns a real climate impact being felt by ordinary folk. The second story from the top talks about the reasons - CO2 concentrations. Only the top story, about delegates meeting at an ultra modern resort in the Middle East, in a bubble of comfort, seems divorced from the real world.
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  2. Agreed, shoyemore, and for the future, this jetting around the globe to faraway destinations for talks about climate change is, IMNSHO, anathema to the raison d'etre of the COPs: Seems to me that the vast majority, if not all the business at hand could be done using teleconferencing, or at least at the same central location, year to year. That's going to have to be part of 'walking the walk,' for JSP (Joe Six Pack) to even come close to buying what the science is saying.
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