November 16, 2009

Headlines
Copenhagen: No deal, we’re out of time, Obama warns
Obama hobbled in fight against global warming
Delaying an international climate treaty: not as bad as it looks
Pests on move worldwide as climate warms
‘Super greenhouse gas’ deal fails
National security perspective on climate change
Coal star state
Ray Mears: We’ll struggle to survive climate change
Cave study links climate change to California droughts
Under the Chamber’s cyber-skin – editorial
How reputation could save the Earth


[click on link below for articles]

News summaries
Copenhagen: No deal, we’re out of time, Obama warns

Barack Obama acknowledged today that time had run out to secure a
legally binding climate deal at the Copenhagen summit in December and
threw his support behind plans to delay a formal pact until next year
at the earliest. The Guardian
Obama hobbled in fight against global warming
[T]his weekend in Singapore, Mr. Obama was forced to acknowledge that a
comprehensive climate deal was beyond reach this year. Instead, he and
other world leaders agreed that they would work toward a more modest
interim agreement with a promise to renew work toward a binding treaty
next year. The admission places Mr. Obama in the awkward position of
being, at least for now, as unlikely to spearhead an international
effort to combat global warming as his predecessor — if for different
reasons… Mr. Obama has found himself limited in his ambitions by a
Congress that is unwilling to move as far or as fast as he would
like…Mr. Obama expressed support on Sunday for a proposal from Prime
Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark to pursue a two-step process
at the Copenhagen conference. Under the plan, the 192 nations convening
in the Danish capital would formulate a nonbinding political agreement
calling for reductions in global warming emissions and aid for
developing nations to adapt to a changing climate. The group would also
promise to work to put together a binding global pact in 2010, complete
with firm emissions targets, enforcement mechanisms and specific dollar
amounts to aid poorer nations. The New York Times
Delaying an international climate treaty: not as bad as it looks
Joe Romm points out that the delay offers some needed breathing room.
The sense that the world is waiting will increase pressure on the
Senate to pass a bill (there’s pressure from Brazil and France
already). Conversely, legislation from the U.S. would increase pressure
on China and India to step up to the plate with targets and timetables.
NRDC’s Jake Schmidt notes that the extra time will be beneficial if a)
enough details are settled in Copenhagen and b) world leaders focus on
ironing out a final agreement in the intervening months. That’s a big
if. Nonetheless, if the world’s nations had headed into Copenhagen
expecting a legally binding treaty complete with targets and
timetables, the result would have been disappointment, acrimony, and
worst of all, wasted time. By taking some of the pressure of
Copenhagen, the two-steps agreement has avoided disaster and maintained
momentum. It’s also given the Obama administration time to engage in
more climate diplomacy. Now if something could just be done about the
Senate. Grist
Pests on move worldwide as climate warms
A look at some other pests that are benefiting or could benefit from
global warming: Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are spreading
northward into Sweden. AP
‘Super greenhouse gas’ deal fails
At little noticed talks last week in Port Ghalib, Egypt, climate
advocates were hoping to seal a global agreement for the phase down of
super greenhouse gases and give next month’s Copenhagen climate talks a
can-do running start. But the annual meeting of the 198 nations of the
Montreal Protocol began on a note of contention that five days of
discussions could not overcome. The 22-year-old Montreal Protocol has
delivered an unbroken string of successes in the battle against ozone
depletion, accomplished with comity and cooperation, but now observers
say it has caught the climate virus. Rhetoric trumped getting down to
business, as an agreement to rid the world of HFCs, enormously potent
global warming gases, was postponed for at least another year. The
central issue on the table was what to do about "super greenhouse
gases," a popular term for hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs… it turns out
they are lethal global warming agents, thousands of times more potent
than CO2 at warming the planet. Reuters
National security perspective on climate change
A key conclusion was that climate change is indeed a threat to
America’s national security, and key to that finding is the conclusion
that global warming is a "threat multiplier" for instability in some of
the most volatile regions of the world, and that such volatility will
reach even the most stable regions due to the tensions caused by
climate change. ENN
Coal star state
While America turns away from dirty energy, Texas could soon have
12 new coal-fired power plants. What gives? Texas Observer
Ray Mears: We’ll struggle to survive climate change
I don’t think most people will survive climate change. It will be a
disaster. We have to adapt to survive and take lessons from nature.
Adaptable things do better – the more specialised you become, the more
marginal you are. New Scientist
Cave study links climate change to California droughts
California experienced centuries-long droughts in the past 20,000 years
that coincided with the thawing of ice caps in the Arctic, according to
analysis of stalagmites from a cave in the Sierra Nevada. Science Daily
Under the Chamber’s cyber-skin – editorial
On Oct. 19, the troupe released a statement, purportedly from the
chamber, announcing that it had reversed its position and would support
a bill to cap carbon emissions. The Yes Men also created a fake chamber
website, using the trademarked chamber logo and linking to pages on the
real site, to add verisimilitude to the prank… The chamber then filed
suit against the troupe, saying it had violated federal trademark
protection and anti-cybersquatting laws. The chamber needs to develop
thicker skin. Rather than confusing people about the chamber’s views on
global warming, the "commercial identity theft" at the heart of the Yes
Men’s stunt helped call attention to them. That’s what any good parody
does. The aim of the bogus news conference and website wasn’t to gain a
competitive advantage over the chamber by damaging its brand or
deluding the public, which trademark and cybersquatting laws were
designed to guard against. It was to raise the heat on the chamber to
change its position on cap-and-trade legislation. Granted, the troupe
had a movie to promote, but that’s speech too — in the Michael Moore,
corporate-America-as-villain vein. It’s a message that the chamber may
not like, but one that the Yes Men should be able to deliver without
having to defend themselves in court. Los Angeles Times
How reputation could save the Earth
Have you ever noticed a friend or neighbour driving a new hybrid car
and felt pressure to trade in your gas guzzler? Or worried about what
people might think when you drive up to the office in an SUV? If so,
then you have experienced the power of reputation for encouraging good
public behaviour. In fact, reputation is such an effective motivator
that it could help us solve the most pressing issue we face –
protecting our planet. New Scientist