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Climate change is a human rights issue – and that’s how we can solve it

Olivier De Schutter, The Guardian
Global climate-change talks often resemble the scene of a traffic accident. Multiple voices shout each other down in a bid to tell their own version of events. What is the real damage, how quickly must it be repaired, and who should foot the bill?

But the real concern is not that the debate is congested and gridlocked; it is that the current clamour masks a deeper failing, namely to identify an honest starting point. In Prosperity Without Growth, the economist Tim Jackson convincingly expounds the myth of “absolute decoupling” of emissions from economic growth. The growth of emissions can be slowed, relative to the growth rate of the economy. However, emissions cannot conceivably be stalled or reversed while the economy continues to expand, however great the carbon-saving technologies of the coming years.

If our political processes cannot conceive of a non-growth future, and yet a fundamental rethink of growth is the only honest starting point for the fight against climate change, then those political processes are clearly not fit for purpose.

Does this mean that democracy has failed, and must be sacrificed for authoritarian solutions? The solution may in fact be the polar opposite. A system where failing governance procedures are forced to think long-term does not necessarily require anti-democratic “climate tzars”. Instead, this revolution can be hyper-democratic and guided by human rights…
(24 April 2012)
Olivier De Schutter is the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

Climate Change Has Nothing to Do With Al Gore (Part 1)

Paul Douglas, Bloomberg
I’m a moderate Republican – a fan of small government, light regulation and market solutions. A serial entrepreneur, I founded companies that invented 3-D television weather graphics and the first app on a cell phone. I’m a Penn State meteorologist. My day-job since 1979: tracking weather for TV news.

If you know anything about American politics these days, and follow the climate war at all, you might anticipate with some confidence that I agree global warming is a hoax. That’s a shame, and I hope it changes soon.

In the 1980s I was skeptical that an upward blip in global temperatures was the result of manmade gases. Then the blips persisted. By the mid-90s I began to see them as unsettling changes. The weather was becoming erratic and even more unpredictable than usual. Storms were more frequent and intense. Curious, I began including climate statistics in daily TV weather segments, like annual trends in flash-flooding, hail, summer humidity, fewer subzero nights and decreased snowfall…
(19 April 2012)
Paul Douglas is a Twin Cities meteorologist and the founder of five companies, including WeatherNation TV, a new 24-hour weather channel.

Natural and human-made CO2 differentiation possible thanks to new monitoring technique

Jorn van Dooren, Bits of Science
…pinpointing wether the gasses are a natural occurrence or anthropogenic in nature is a lot more complicated. Now thanks to a new monitoring system a clear picture can be drawn about which gasses are human-made and which are natural…

An important difference between CO2 from natural sources and CO2 from fossil fuels is the age of the carbon it contains. Younger natural sources of CO2 are relatively rich in carbon-14. But since carbon-14 has a half-life of about 5,700 years, it can’t be found in fossil fuels that are millions of years old.

Using this difference, the research team could easily differentiate between natural CO2 emissions and anthropogenic ones. They also measured 22 other atmospheric gasses tied to human activities…
(20 April 2012)

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again

John M. Broder, New York Times
After dropping for two years during the recession, emissions of the gases blamed for global warming rose in 2010 as the economy heated up, the Environmental Protection Agency reports.

Output of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gasses were up 3.2 percent from 2009 as the nation climbed slowly out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the E.P.A. said.

“The increase from 2009 to 2010 was primarily due to an increase in economic output resulting in an increase in energy consumption across all sectors, and much warmer summer conditions resulting in an increase in electricity demand for air conditioning that was generated primarily by combusting coal and natural gas,” the agency reported in its annual inventory of greenhouse gases…
(16 April 2012)

MPs warn UK pollution outsourcing

BBC Online
Carbon emissions from goods imported and consumed in the UK are rising faster than the domestic fall in greenhouse gases, MPs say.

‘Outsourcing’ of pollution overseas will tarnish the UK’s record on carbon emissions, experts warned.

The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 19% between 1990 and 2008, but its carbon footprint, based on what the UK consumes, grew by 20%.

The government say that a new deal on climate change should be agreed.

The cut in greenhouse gases since 1990 was the result of switching from coal to gas for electricity generation and the fact that what is consumed is more often manufactured in countries such as China – rather than because of policies to tackle climate change, the committee said in a report on Consumption-Based Emissions Reporting
(18 April 2012)

Climate Factsheets

Public Interest Research Centre
Since the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009 and the ‘Climategate’ debacle of early 2010, media interest in climate science has declined, and the public become somewhat more sceptical about its veracity. Yet the evidence base itself has only become more robust in that time. Conveying the certainties and uncertainties of climate science to the public – through a media that has become much more polarised about the subject – is a recurrent challenge for campaigners.

Responding to this, PIRC has put together the following set of factsheets, covering different aspects of climate science. The factsheets look at the evidence for climate change from a range of angles, such as global temperature trends and Arctic ice melt, and traces the fingerprint of climate change in various phenomena, from floods and heatwaves to wildfires and species extinctions. Each briefing contextualises the issue in question, summarises the background science, and addresses common objections raised by sceptics. Drawing on the latest peer-reviewed studies, they are intended to be a solid, reliable and concise guide for campaigners wishing to communicate climate science with accuracy and confidence…

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