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Climate - Jan 8

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Interview with Greenpeace director

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
Just recently, the Bush administration, under the threat of a lawsuit, agreed to declare polar bears an endangered species. The bears' arctic habitat has experienced declining ice coverage due to global warming.

Greenpeace was one of three organizations that filed a lawsuit against the government. We speak with John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.

...AMY GOODMAN: Where does the US stand in relation to the rest of the world on this issue?

JOHN PASSACANTANDO: The US stands incredibly far behind virtually every other industrialized democracy. The US has essentially taken the position of ExxonMobil to the international negotiations, expressing skepticism about the science of global warming, when, in fact, it is airtight, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, now with decades of research, is showing the public just exactly what is happening from global warming. So the US administration, the Bush administration, has essentially run the oil industry's agenda.

The analogy is to the tobacco companies. The oil companies have denied global warming is a problem, and the US administration has repeated that, and now, as the evidence becomes so irrefutable, it becomes so obvious the administration is taking almost a flat earth position. They’re saying, “Well, we know something's happening, but we still need more evidence and more research.” It's an effort to stall.

And hopefully, now with more Democrats in the Congress and Democrats in the majority, they can push through this, actually have the hearings they need to have to expose this lie that was perpetrated on the American people by ExxonMobil and others through our government, because I believe it was really one of the great corporate crimes of the late 20th and the early 21st century.
(8 Jan 2007)


Blizzards, reindeer, darkness: new Klondike is hottest place in Europe

Alex Duval Smith, UK Observer
Shoppers from four countries flock to buy flatpacks as global warming ignites the Arctic economy
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Misha Maksimovic drove more than 500 miles from Russia to northern Sweden just to be like the rest of us. Yesterday in a blizzard he drove back again with his Ikea flatpacks, full of excitement that soon a Billy bookcase would be in his hall, a Sultan mattress would grace his bed and his kitchen would carry the Rationell name.

'Ikea's arrival in Haparanda is bigger news than the Russian revolution,' said Maksimovic, a 45-year-old teacher, as he loaded £540 worth of shopping into a trailer hitched to his Lada. 'The journey is nothing to us northerners.'

To anyone who thinks the hubs of Europe are London, Paris or Brussels, coming to Haparanda-Tornio, population 33,000, is a wake-up call. Here in the winter darkness, in a town straddling the border between Sweden and Finland, 100km (62 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, global warming is one factor that has ignited a Klondike economy.

...Wacky as Bucht's analysis may sound, it is entirely in step with climate predictions that sweltering tourists will desert the Mediterranean for the Baltic Sea and that firms carrying goods from China to Europe will send their ships through the ice-free North East Passage rather than lose time and money in the Suez Canal.

In Haparanda, climate change - coupled with an El Niño effect this year - is blatantly clear: yesterday's blizzard brought the first real snowfall of the winter; usually by January there is nearly a metre of snow on the ground.

It is supported by a European Commission report to be published this week that suggests a boom could occur in a north transformed by global warming.
(7 Jan 2007)


The Warming

James Howard Kunstler, Clusterf*ck Nation
Everyone was walking around upstate New York delirious in their shirtsleeves on Saturday as the thermometer soared into the sixties (an all-time record for January here). The resource cornucopians were beside themselves with glee as the price of crude oil nose dived down to the mid-$50 range, proving what ninnies we peak oil alarmists are. The mustard greens we planted last July are still growing in the garden. The cat caught a garter snake. And later that evening those fluffy things in the headlights were moths, not snowflakes.

It was hard not to enjoy the end of the world. But despite all the high spirits and the roller-bladers and the kids hoisting their Ben-and-Jerry's cones, one was provoked to wonder about all the deer ticks out there enjoying an extra breeding cycle, not to mention the deer themselves, fattening up on prematurely swelling buds, and the pine bark beetles we've been hearing about up the road in the Adirondacks.

And for the really farsighted, there is the contemplation of what summer might be like. After all, if it is 67 in January, might it be 107 in July? And maybe that won't be so groovy. The electric grid is much more stressed out when all the air-conditioners are humming across the land. I'm not looking forward to Lyme disease, West Nile virus, or maybe even Dengue fever, either.
(8 Jan 2007)

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