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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Climate Change Impacts in Kuwait | EcoMENA

Kuwait is facing a wide range of climate change challenges including sea level rise, water scarcity, desertification and loss of diversity. Kuwait is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and arid lands resulting in seriously degraded soil and land damage in addition to salt intrusion in the aquifers affecting the small scale agricultural lands thus enhancing the food security threat in the region. Since 1975, Kuwait has experienced 1.50C to 20C increase in temperature, which is significantly higher than the global average. In recent years, there has been a sharp change in rainfall pattern in Kuwait which may be attributed to climate change impacts. In addition, there has been marked increase in dust storms in last few decades which are noticeable signs of change in climatic conditions in Kuwait and neighbouring nations.

As Climate Change Hits Economies, Small Island States Turn to Selling Passports

Such economic citizenship programmes, which are being run by several small island states in the region, have raised concerns that terrorists, criminals and other shady characters could buy Caribbean passports to evade justice, slip into Europe and North America through the back door, or squirrel away billions in stolen public money in tropical tax paradises. Defenders of the programmes counter that in a fiercely competitive global economy, some small island nations have few other ways to raise government revenue, attract private sector investment, and cope with the consequences of climate change

Samarco chief faces criminal investigation over collapsed Brazil dam

Brazilian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into alleged environmental crimes by Roberto Carvalho, the chief executive of Samarco, the firm held responsible for the country's largest-ever environmental disaster.
Samarco's Fundão iron tailings dam collapsed eight months ago, pouring approximately 50 million tons of mining waste into the Doce River and killing 19 people. Last month, Brazil's environmental agency, IBAMA, issued a technical report stating that the firm had fulfilled none of the 11 emergency recovery measures it had ordered. Four of the 11 measures were partially completed.

World's largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case | Environment | The Guardian

In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 "carbon majors" including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people's fundamental rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination".
The move is the first step in what is expected to be an official investigation of the companies by the CHR, and the first of its kind in the world to be launched by a government body.

USDA Analysis: U.S. Beekeepers Lose A Staggering 44% of Hives in 2015-16 - EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists

USDA Analysis: U.S. Beekeepers Lose A Staggering 44% of Hives in 2015-16

(EnviroNews World News) — Washington D.C. — A preliminary analysis released May 4, 2016, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), shows American beekeepers lost a stunning number of hives from April of 2015 through March of 2016.
The research was carried out by The Bee Informed Partnership in tandem with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the USDA. The analysis represents the tenth such report, now issued on an annual basis.
The research also shows beekeepers suffered unsustainable losses over the summer season as well — 28%, making 2015-16 one of the most devastating years for American bees ever, with losses totaling 44% — a number that represents the second highest loss of American colonies since record keeping began — and a number that has environmentalist and scientists alike sounding even more bee-crisis alarms.
Up until six years ago, summer losses were not even tracked as bees historically suffer their highest rate of colony collapse in the winter. But the latest census demonstrates hives are being hit just as hard in the summer, when they are typically at their peak of health and vitality. And it's that fact, that has many researchers concerned.

USDA Honey Bee Stats Chart
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland bee scientist and the leader of the survey, told The Guardian, "It's very troubling and what really concerns me [is] that we are losing colonies in summer too, when bees should be doing so well. This suggests there is something more going on – bees may be the canary in the coal mine of bigger environmental problems."
"One in three bites of food we eat is directly or indirectly pollinated by bees. If we want to produce apples, cucumbers, almonds, blueberries and lots of other types of food, we need a functioning pollination system. Bees, and the beekeeping industry, will suffer dramatically if we don't have that," vanEngelsdorp continued.
Unfortunately for the bees, and for humanity, researchers say the problem is a complex one. It's not just a single issue that can be pinned down and fixed — it's a smorgasbord of man-created bee bashing trouble that has the little critters reeling. As such, many scientists are now saying humanity has brewed the perfect storm for an ongoing, festering global bee crisis.
One of the main problems say researchers, is the evermore pervasive mono-crop culture perpetuated by the American agriculture industry. Once diverse meadows that beamed with sundry plethoras of bee-sustaining wild flowers, have been tilled under and replaced with fields harboring one or two food crops instead. Corn and soy are two of the biggest culprits in these regards, but surely not the only ones to be blamed.
But it's not only habitat loss and lack of biodiversity that are wiping out the tenacious pollinators, its myriad other threats as well. Amongst those perils are neonicotinoid-based pesticides and varroa mite infestations, while various issues driven by climate change are also taking their toll.
The Guardian reports, "There were an estimated five million bee colonies in the U.S. in 1940, but only half of them now remain" — and it's getting more and more expensive to keep the colonies still standing in good health — about $200 a year per hive. Part of the reason for the rising costs is the ever-increasing need for beekeepers to replace sick or dead queen bees by mail-ordering new ones.
"There is more and more effort being put into keeping colonies alive," vanEngelsdorp told The Guardian. "We are seeing greater cost pressures to pollinate crops. It costs around $200 a year to keep a colony alive and replace a queen. You're lucky if you make $200 a year through the honey produced, so a lot of operators aren't even breaking even. There are a lot who are really hurting."
In June of 2015, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum creating a multi-agency task force designated to engineer the Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. It is yet to be seen if the interagency coalition can devise a plan strong enough to help bee populations stabilize and recover.            

European offshore wind investment hits €14bn in 2016 | Environment | The Guardian

In the first six months of this year Europe's offshore wind projects attracted €14bn of investment, split across seven projects and financing a total of 3.7GW of new clean energy capacity.
The UK attracted the lion's share of new investment, with UK projects worth €10.4bn securing a final investment decision, amounting to roughly three-quarters of all European investment.

South Africa will avoid recession this year: central bank - CNBC Africa

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Rising seas threaten to swamp U.S. military bases by 2050

Military bases along the East and Gulf Coast are at risk of losing large chunks of land as rising sea levels from man-made climate change swamp installations from New Hampshire to Florida.
The onslaught of water will come from both tidal flooding and hurricane storm surge and could cause a 2,600% increase in the number of annual flooding events on several bases in the U.S. in coming decades, according to a report released Wednesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

More Mosquito Days Increasing Zika Risk in U.S. | Climate Central

Hot and humid summer weather across the U.S. brings with it the rise of the mosquito season, and this year the threat of the Zika virus makes that more than a minor nuisance. Mosquito species found in the Lower 48 states are known to transmit this disease, thriving in tropical and subtropical climates. As the climate warms and humidity increases across the nation, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika, is becoming more prevalent for Americans.

United we stand: Reforming the UN to reduce climate risk | E3G

Peacebuilding efforts are unravelling where communities compete for access to climate stressed food and water supply. People are migrating from resource depressed climates in search of stability and challenging the UN's ability to deliver humanitarian aid at scale. And amidst multiple crises, the capacity to prioritise fundamental pillars of UN governance such as human rights and international law is thinly spread.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Stands Firm on Migrant Policy After Terrorist Attacks - WSJ

BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure after two terror attacks by asylum seekers in the space of a week, said she was still convinced that Germany could handle the influx of migrants and refugees. 
Ms. Merkel repeated her "We can do it!" mantra that she first used last August as Germany was taking in thousands of asylum-seekers a day.

Opinion:The Real Reason Republicans Deny Climate Change

William Church, Managing Director, CIWARS

Lets start with the facts.  First, the Republican leadership are not uneducated, slack jawed, knuckle dragging sub-humans only focussed on corporate profits; therefore, the effort to paint them this way belie simple observation.  The effort to paint them as mental throw backs because they do not believe in evolution or  have faith in the Bible is a really dangerous strategy and only serves to divide and not unite. Democrats fall into the trap of God or Democrat choice, which is not winnable.

Second, the vast majority of Americans do not really care about Climate Change. They care about paying their bills, keeping their jobs, raising their families, and enjoying themselves.

Third, the effort to link Climate Change and conflict or the end of the world will only backfire like most of the current strategies.  Yes, there is a causal presence of conflict and Climate Change but the primary cause of conflict is the lack of governance and the inability to avoid conflict. Beyond all the headlines this is what the recent studies show.  To take the position, that Climate Change causes conflict is to recast humans as a species that has not progressed in 13,000 years.

This is the point and the only point worth discussing.  Humans, scientific knowledge and governance sciences have progressed. Humans have instant access to events and knowledge worldwide. Humans have access to advanced technology.  There are solutions to avoid the most drastic consequences of Climate Change, at least for the next 100 years.

So why do Republicans deny Climate Change and refuse to address the issues?  Their denial is based on the core of current Republican philosophy: less government, less taxes, "individuals can solve all problems", no government involvement in our lives, except for reproductive rights, marriage rights, and religious based issues.

Unfortunately, with all the facts known today, the solution to surviving Climate Change is more governance.  This might strike a sour note because governance is widely misunderstood today. Governance has been polarized into meaning government intrusion in our lives and loss of individual freedom, and the Democratic Party must partly share this blame.

Climate Change governance means we do exactly what the founders of the United States of America meant for the federal government to do:  govern issues that require federal focus between the states, require funding beyond the ability of a single state, and defend  the nation from all threats foreign and domestic.

The core Democratic Party's failure is to live in the world of Climate Change fear--which is owned by the current Republic Party-and not live in the Climate Change solutions world.  The Democratic Party needs to build a direct correlation between Climate Change problems and Climate Change solutions. Also, the Democratic Party should stop talking about the future, and focus on the tangible today.

Houston, Miami (Southern Florida), and California are top of the brain examples.

Houston is the prime example.  Natural drainage systems have been paved over with concrete and urban expansion.   Extreme weather events are a current aspect of Climate Change.  There have been so many repetitive thousand-year-events in the last four years that this is undeniable. The result is loss of productivity,  hindered commerce, and loss of personal property.  We are not going to evacuate Houston so Climate Change governance should focus on solving this problem to make Climate Change a tangible issue and show the effectiveness of governance.

California is plagued by a decades-long drought.  Lake Mead,  the reservoir for Arizona, Nevada, and California, is slowly draining.  Yes, the water level goes up and down but overall the direction is down. Yes, California has good rain years and bad rain years but the truth is that the overall direction is downward. Most informed sources see this as a centuries-long-event.

We are not going to evacuate Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside.  The Central Valley grows almost half of America's produce and the loss of this agricultural production center would devastate America.  This is not a California problem and to treat it as a California problem plays into the Republican Party's hand.

Southern Florida is both a today problem and a near future Climate Change crisis. Miami is already flooding on a regular basis. This is not a fictional futuristic statement. Freddie Mac, last May, warned that the Southern Florida housing market has a high risk of collapse because of sea level rise in the next mortgage cycle of 30 years.  In this collapse, nearly 10 million Americans will lose their largest asset: their homes. This is a significant challenge.  According to Freddie Mac, the resale housing market will dry up because of lack of flood insurance at a reasonable price.

These three examples--Houston, California, and Southern Florida--are exactly the issues that the founding fathers envisioned handled by the federal government: beyond the solution of a single state, a problem that affects national security, a problem that affects interstate commerce,  and a problem that directly affects personal security.

This is exactly the Republican Party's suicide pact. Climate Change will require a federal approach that rivals the 1930s solutions of the Works Projects Administration.  The Republicans are entrenched in a no government view but our solutions require governance.

If the United States is going to survive Climate Change, the Democratic Party must offer the Republican Party a way out of this suicide pact.  Also if we have learned anything as a nation in the last decade is that dominance of one party in Congress over another is the not the solution.

The future of the United States should not be a zero-sum game nor should our politics be zero-sum.


William Church Profile