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Gore sees ‘spiritual crisis’ in warming

Anton Caputo, San Antonio Express-News
Playing equal parts visionary, cheerleader and comedian, Al Gore brought his message of how to fight global warming to a capacity crowd of receptive architects Saturday in San Antonio.

The former vice president referred continually to a “new way of thinking” that is emerging in the country and offered hope in the battle to control the effects global warming will have on the planet.

“It’s in part a spiritual crisis,” Gore told the crowd in the Convention Center at the American Institute of Architects national convention. “It’s a crisis of our own self-definition – who we are. Are we creatures destined to destroy our own species? Clearly not.”

…Gore told the architects they are in a unique position to help solve the problems by continuing to push building standards and methods that conserve energy and water. The message was in line with the focus of this year’s AIA conference, titled “Growing Beyond Green.”

… On the request of Gore’s media handlers, Saturday’s event was closed to the media. Because of the importance of the issue and Gore’s status, the San Antonio Express-News chose to cover it anyway.
(6 May 2007)

GAO’s John Stephenson discusses effects of severe weather on private, federal insurers
(video and transcript)
Monica Trauzzi:, E&E TV
With weather-related events costing the nation billions of dollars in damages over the past decade, private insurers have reacted to this increased liability by adjusting policies for many storm-prone areas in the United States. But according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, federal insurers have not adjusted their practices based on this increased risk.

During today’s OnPoint, John Stephenson, director of Natural Resources and Environment at the Government Accountability Office, discusses the report and his recent testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Stephenson explains how federal and private insurers’ approaches have differed and how changes to the insurance industry will affect consumers.
(7 May 2007)

Arctic Land Melts Creates New Land Rush

Robert J. Miller, via AlterNet
Nations are racing to plant flags and claim the “new world” of islands and sea routes that are emerging as Arctic ice melts.
Recent news reports state that global warming and the shrinking Arctic icecaps are opening new sea lanes and making barren islands suddenly very valuable. In fact, the international community might experience a new race of exploration, conquest and acquisition for this “new world” — these newly available lands and sea routes. Conflicts could arise over shipping lanes, islands, fish stocks, minerals and oil that are now becoming accessible and commercially exploitable.

Governments are even now engaged in asserting their sovereignty over these areas and assets. Canada, Denmark and the United States are already involved in diplomatic disputes over these issues. For example, Canada and Denmark have sent diplomats and warships to plant their flags on tiny Hans Island near northwestern Greenland.
(7 May 2007)

Dossier on Climate Change
(39-page PDF)
Socialist Alliance (Australia)
The dossier is organised to provide background material to help the Socialist Alliance to:
1. Specify a target for greenhouse gas emission reductions
2. Take a position on whether to call on the Australian government to ratify the Kyoto protocols, and
3. Develop its position in relations to such proposals as carbon trading, a carbon tax and carbon rationing.

The dossier begins with references to web-based material, which there is little point in reproducing in
full in print, and then includes various articles on the issues under discussion.

The Socialist Alliance is a new party with its base in community and union activism. We do not have access to academic think-tanks or government research departments. Our policy is based on our best understanding of the various sides in the debate and what we think will work best going by our political principles and the scientific knowledge we have access to. Climate change is an unprecedented threat and any response such as ours is conditional on further scientific data and experience bringing new ideas to light.

…Public ownership of the major sectors of industry is key to directing it in sustainable directions. Market forces chase dollars not sustainability. Public owndership of power and transport industries is key to challenging climate change. This does not simply mean reversing privatisation. Public input is missing from the current bureaucratic system of government. Public ownership must mean complete public transparency and accountability including democratic mechanisms to select and reject plans and administrators for publicly owned companies. Workers in each workplace must be given the opportunity to collectively develop a plan to reduce the business or department’s environmental impact, and government bodies must oversea its implementation.
(1 April 2007)
One of the more thorough documents from the anti-capitalist left. The Socialist Alliance seems to have taken up many of the ideas of environmentalists and relocalists. -BA

The rush to go green could end in the red

Fiona Harvey, Jonathan Wheatley, Financial Times
The rush to go green suggests easy money for investors in projects that reduce carbon dioxide output. The reality is otherwise: many carbon projects turn out to be high risk.

Project failures and over-optimism among developers, together with a tendency to exaggerate in applications, mean that 40-50 per cent of the carbon credits anticipated under the Kyoto protocol will never be delivered, carbon traders and analysts say.

Tom Frost, carbon analyst at Numis Securities, said: “I would expect that about half of the credits would not come through in the end.”
(26 April 2007)

Curbing global warming won’t bankrupt economy

Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor
Aggressive measures would only trim annual world growth by 0.12 percent, new report says. But will politicians go along?
Mankind has the technology to slow global warming – and the shift can occur without breaking the bank. But the timetable is short and the political resistance to “low-carbon” economics is high.

That’s the conclusion emerging as experts digest Friday’s release of a report from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, which focuses on the costs of various scenarios to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, the most aggressive of which would aim to limit warming to a range of 2 to 2.8 degrees C (3.6 to 5 degrees F.) by the end of the century. To accomplish that, the world’s nations would have to institute sweeping changes that would slash emissions by as much as 85 percent by 2050. For the US, this eventually could boost gasoline prices by up to $1 a gallon, according to some estimates.

“In terms of real life … you can’t even imagine how we could get from here to there,” says Vicki Arroyo, director of policy analysis for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Va.

In the US, many factories, power plants, and other big-ticket, energy-guzzling projects already are being built or soon will be and their impacts will be felt for decades, she points out. Abroad, major developing countries, such as China and India, are expected to continue their rapid growth and spiraling emissions.

In virtually every economic sector the report analyzes, efforts to adopt more atmosphere-friendly policies face serious constraints. Not the least is “resistance by vested interests,” the report says.
(7 May 2007)