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Global warming, global health, global ethics

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
“Impact of Regional Climate Change on Human Health,” a new report in the latest edition of Nature, makes for sobering reading. A combined effort from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the World Health Organization, the report reviews the evidence connecting changes to climate conditions and threats to human health. The study looked at both empirical data from past observations and model-based simulations of future interactions. Unusually, the full report is available to non-subscribers; a good summary can be found at

The nations that have been, and will be, hardest-hit by climate-related health effects are those least able to respond; they’re also the least responsible for the global temperature increases both over the past century and (with the arguable exceptions of India and China) likely over the next. This is not a happy article, or a study full of solutions; it does, however, underscore why global warming is so dangerous — and why the need to respond to environmental risks can’t be disconnected from the need to respond to global poverty.
(18 November 2005)
See original article for embedded links.

India unlikely to agree to Kyoto emission caps

Sugita Katyal, Reuters via ENN
NEW DELHI — India is unlikely to agree to any emission caps in the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol because of its expanding energy-hungry economy, but analysts say developed nations will continue to pile pressure on the nation.

Asia’s third-largest economy and home to about a sixth of humanity has some of the most polluted cities in the world, many of them continually shrouded in eye-stinging smog of noxious fumes from cars and industry.

Its growing energy needs are only expected to increase along with pollution levels in the next few decades, despite growing fears that global warming will spare no one.
(18 November 2005)

Climate change threatens world fish stocks, WWF says

Reuters via ENN
GENEVA — Climate change is warming oceans, rivers and lakes and threatening fish stocks already under pressure from overfishing, pollution and habitat loss, the environmentalist group WWF warned on Friday.

The decline in numbers of fish could have a devastating impact on human populations, particularly in poorer countries that rely on fish for protein, it said in a report.

Higher temperatures reduce oxygen levels, stunt growth, reduce food supplies and can force fish to seek cooler waters to which they may not be as well adapted, WWF added.

“As climate change kicks in it adds to the pressure on already strained fish populations,” said Katherine Short, WWF’s fisheries officer.
(18 November 2005)

Ted Glick on the Climate Crisis day of action, Dec 3
Global Public Media
Ted Glick of The Climate Crisis Coalition talks to David Room about catastrophic climate change and the international day of action happening on December 3, 2005.
(18 November 2005)

Comic belief
Comedian Larry David chats about making global warming funny

Amanda Griscom Little, Grist
This Sunday night, you may find yourself crying over global warming. Crying because you’re laughing so hard, that is, thanks to Larry David — co-creator of Seinfeld and creator and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm — and his eco-activist wife, Laurie David.

At 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) on Nov. 20, TBS will air “Earth to America!,” a two-hour comedy extravaganza produced by Laurie and starring Larry that is designed to get America laughing — and, more to the point, learning — about global warming. They promise it will be an upbeat, non-preachy, gut-splitting TV special about one of the least funny issues on the planet.
(17 November 2005)

Fly the Eco-Friendly Skies

Grist and Gristmill
What’s the best way to witness the devastation of a clear-cut forest or snap photographic evidence of illegal dumping? From the sky! Or so says Rick Durden, this week’s InterActivist. He’s executive director of LightHawk, an organization of volunteer pilots who take environmentalists up for a bird’s-eye view of the lands they’re working to protect. …

Rick Durden, green pilot and head of LightHawk:
answers reader’s questions
answers Grist editors’ question
(14 and 18 November 2005)
While the LightHawk project sounds worthwhile and interesting, Rick Durden’s arguments minimizing the environmental impacts of air travel are on weak ground. -BA

Seeing the forest for the trees: sequestration and oil production

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
The US Department of Energy trumpeted the result this week: the DOE-funded “Weyburn Project” successfully sequestered five million tons of carbon dioxide into the Weyburn Oilfield in Saskatchewan, Canada, while doubling the field’s oil recovery rate. The press release goes on to say,

“The success of the Weyburn Project could have incredible implications for reducing CO2 emissions and increasing America’s oil production. Just by applying this technique to the oil fields of Western Canada we would see billions of additional barrels of oil and a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to pulling more than 200 million cars off the road for a year,” Secretary of Energy Bodman said.

I’m quite certain that you folks have already picked up on the key underlying problem. The additional barrels of oil put out carbon dioxide even while the sequestration buries it. In fact, as I show in the extended entry, the additional oil puts out more CO2 than is buried. The Weyburn sequestration model is a study in the need to pay attention to the trade-offs involved in quick-fix solutions to big problems.
(18 November 2005)
Congratulations to Jamais for a nice piece of analysis. As he says, “We need to be extra careful to pay close attention to the numbers tossed about by proponents.” That’s true not only for carbon sequestration, but for any of the energy proposals on the table. -BA