Climate & biodiversity - Nov 7
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We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened
George Monbiot, Guardian
The so-called summit in Japan won't stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act
'Countries join forces to save life on Earth", the front page of the Independent told us. "Historic", "a landmark", a "much-needed morale booster", the other papers chorused. The declaration agreed last week at the summit in Japan to protect the world's wild species and places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it.
I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release which, though three pages long, is almost content-free. The reporters can't be blamed for this – it was approved on Friday but the declaration has still not been published. I've pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the convention on biological diversity has gone to ground, and my calls and emails remain unanswered. The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no printed copies. I've never seen this situation before. Every other international agreement I've followed was published as soon as it was approved.
The evidence suggests that we've been conned. The draft agreement, published a month ago, contained no binding obligations. Nothing I've heard from Japan suggests that this has changed. The draft saw the targets for 2020 that governments were asked to adopt as nothing more than "aspirations for achievement at the global level" and a "flexible framework", within which countries can do as they wish. No government, if the draft has been approved, is obliged to change its policies.
(1 November 2010)
UN report warns of threat to human progress from climate change
Larry Elliott and Mark Tran , Guardian
The United Nations warned today that a continued failure to tackle climate change was putting at risk decades of progress in improving the lives of the world's poorest people.
In its annual flagship report on the state of the world, the UN said unsustainable patterns of consumption and production posed the biggest challenge to the anti-poverty drive.
"For human development to become truly sustainable, the close link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions needs to be severed," the UN said in its annual human development report (HDR).
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the HDR said the past two decades had seen "substantial progress" in human development despite the impact of the financial crisis, which had resulted in 34 million people losing their jobs and an additional 64 million people dropping below the $1.25 a day income poverty threshold.(4 November 2010)
Climate change challenge for computer gamers
Adam Vaughan, Guardian
Fate of the World, a new strategy game launched tomorrow, could reach new audiences, say green campaigners
... Arriving on PCs Tuesdayand Macs shortly, the British-made Fate of the World puts players at the helm of a future World Trade Organisation-style environmental body with a task of saving the world by cutting carbon emissions or damning it by letting soaring temperatures wreak havoc through floods, droughts and fires.
The strategy game is already being hailed by gaming experts as a potential breakthrough for such social change titles, and welcomed by climate campaigners as a way of reaching new audiences.
While traditional mainstream games have focused on action, sports and increasingly casual genres, Fate of the World features data from real-world climate models, anecdotes from the polar explorer Pen Hadow and input from a team of scientists and economists in the US and UK.
(31 October 2010)
Global Warming for Gamers (text and video)
John Collins Rudolf, New York Times
Think you’ve got the smarts to rein in climate change without crashing the global economy?
In the real world, even leaders of nations are having trouble figuring that out. But in the new strategy video game “Fate of the World,” players singlehandedly confront that daunting challenge, while tackling peak oil, overpopulation and saving the rain forest to boot.
“You are in charge,” Gobion Rowlands, founder and chairman of Red Redemption, the British-based design company that created the game, said in an interview. “It’s your world to save or destroy.”
Players serve as the president of the Global Environmental Organization, a fictional group with the ability to dictate economic, environmental and social policies around the world — “a U.N. with teeth,” Matt Miles Griffiths, one of the games’ designers, told me.
Over the course of 200 years, players must surmount a variety of challenges, from saving the Amazon rain forest to creating a post-oil economy in the United States — a scenario dubbed Oil Crash America. As the years progress, resources dwindle, temperatures climb and ecosystems around the world crumble, raising the stakes.
The game relies on climate prediction models supplied by Myles Allen, head of the climate dynamics group at the University of Oxford’s atmospheric, oceanic and planetary physics department.
(2 November 2010)