viernes, 30 de enero de 2009

environment -

viernes 30 de enero de 2009
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Other Environment News

• Pentagon faces a battle on climate change (FT)
• Prince talks about climate change (Press Association)
• Defeating climate change by air (FT)
• UN says okay to proposals on climate change, Myanmar (Jakarta Post)
• Interview-Arctic ice unlikely to see record melt in 2008 (Reuters)
• Shipping emissions three times higher than thought (Telegraph, UK)
• Ships' carbon output twice previous estimate-study (Reuters)
• No more plain sailing (Guardian, UK)
• Nobel winner urges oil execs to help cut emissions (Reuters)
• Developed countries urged to lead emissions cuts (Xinhua)
• Brazilian police crack down on illegal Amazon logging (Reuters)
• Skin disease linked with deforestation (United Press International)
• Second deadline to protect polar bears missed (Reuters)
• Las Vegas water source could run dry by 2021 (Reuters)
• Bolivia floods misery continues (BBC)
• UK carves out its place in space, but hopes for Britons on moon dashed (Guardian)
• La FSA organiza una Jornada sobre el cambio climático en Las Vegas (
• Inversores multimillonarios analizan cambio climático (Univision)
• La forêt française se métamorphose sous l'effet du changement climatique (LE Monde)

Environmental News from the UNEP Regions


Other UN News

• Environment News from the UN Daily News of 13 February 2008 (none)
• Environment News from the S.G.’s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 13 February 2008

UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

Red Orbit: EPA's Marine Debris Program: Taking Action Against Trash
By Grumbles, Benjamin H
Marine debris is a pervasive, preventable problem that threatens our oceans and coasts. Man-made, persistent objects are discarded, disposed or abandoned and cause ecological and economic injuries, as well as aesthetic insults. From beach closures in the late 1980s due to medical wastes washing up on the coast of New Jersey to the deaths of seals in the Hawaiian Islands due to ingestion of litter and entanglement in fishing nets, there is no question that marine debris has a vast impact. The good news is federal, state and local agencies are partnering with industry, environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the public to reduce this extensive problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been part of the solution for decades through its Marine Debris Program. Permit programs for storm water, coordination across government agencies, collaboration with industry and NGOs, development of education and outreach materials and support for President George W. Bush's new Marine Debris Initiative are examples that demonstrate EPA's commitment.
Collaborating on Prevention
As a member of the 1987 Interagency Task Force on Persistent Marine Debris, EPA and its federal partners were charged with "assessing the problem and need for research, identifying potential reduction measures and considering alternative actions to address the problem of plastic marine pollution."
EPA has responded with prevention and control programs under several statutory authorities, including those dealing with improper disposal of waste at sea and on shore; trash entering waterways through storm water drains and point sources, such as combined sewer overflows; trash disposal and recycling; and monitoring marine debris trends in the environment. In addition, EPA works with a number of international and national programs to assess, monitor and prevent marine debris by developing and supporting outreach and educational materials, grant projects, guidance documents, beach cleanups, recycling efforts and many other marine debris-related activities. One of EPA's most successful programs has been its U.S. Harbors Study from 1988 to 1990, where the agency assessed the types of marine debris found in effluent from storm sewers, collected in sewage treatment facilities and floating in harbors across the country, prompting a partnership with industry to better control the release of plastic pellets during manufacturing and transportation operations.
Two major ongoing marine debris programs EPA supports are the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) and the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program (NMDMP). On every third Saturday in September for the last 22 years, Ocean Conservancy has hosted the ICC. The ICC includes more than 100 countries and territories bordering every major body of water on Earth and is the world's largest volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment and collect marine environmental data from both land and underwater sites. In 2006, more than 350,000 people around the world removed about seven million pounds of debris from more than 34,000 miles of coasts, shorelines and underwater sites.
In the fall of 2007, EPA-in partnership with Ocean Conservancy- completed the NMDMP to obtain statistically-based marine debris composition and trend data that will serve as the basis for development of future marine debris prevention efforts. The program, managed by Ocean Conservancy under a grant from EPA, used local volunteers from across the country to track the number of specific "indicator" items collected on each beach and identify the likely source (i.e., land-based or ocean-based) of the debris. By focusing on specific indicator items, the program design team (consisting of an interagency workgroup, Ocean Conservancy and members of academia) believes resulting data will not only help determine what specific items are most worthy of control efforts, but also which sources need to be targeted in prevention efforts.
Over the course of 60 months, with 600 volunteers around the country, Ocean Conservancy tabulated marine debris items at 47 beaches along the U.S. coastline. The final NMDMP report found no significant change in the overall total amount of debris at its monitoring sites, but noted a disturbing trend: increasing numbers of plastic beverage containers, such as water bottles. In addition, items attributed to land-based sources made up the majority of debris surveyed nationally at 49 percent, in comparison to 18 percent from vessels and 33 percent from sources that could not be distinguished as coming from the ocean or land. The study also found plastic straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags and balloons were the most abundant forms of debris littering our coasts.
Rising Awareness
Using the NMDMP and final report as a guide, EPA is collaborating with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Global Marine Litter Campaign as UNEP works to develop marine debris monitoring programs in their Regional Seas Programme. As a cochair of the Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee (IMDCC), established in 2006, EPA will also consider the results from this study as the IMDCC develops recommendations for comprehensive and multidisciplinary approaches to reduce the sources and impacts of marine debris.
The results from the NMDMP report will also enable EPA to take an active role in the new Marine Debris Initiative, set out by the president in November. The initiative calls upon the public and private sectors to work together to increase public awareness and education, strengthen existing programs and develop new initiatives to prevent, reduce and remove marine debris.
There are rising tides of awareness and action to prevent and control marine debris. As citizens and governments take steps to stop the trashing of our ocean and coastal treasures, industry will respond as well. Through technology, innovation and collaboration, we can expect to see more recycling and less refuse entering our waterways. Smarter product packaging and new controls on urban storm water runoff, coupled with broader education efforts and stewardship initiatives, will get us closer to the dream of debris-free seas.
"Man-made, persistent objects are discarded, disposed or abandoned and cause ecological and economic injuries, as well as aesthetic insults."
Greenbang: IT companies “could do more to cut waste”
Posted by Greenbang on February 13th, 2008
Well there’s a shock. But anything for a bit of PR on the green front will do wonders for your relationship with the boss.
Well not here it won’t. It just makes you look silly.
Too harsh? Maybe - but it’s late and Greenbang’s had a big day.
Here’s what came through. Not the best bit of writing you’ve ever seen, so it’s left in its original format:
“Channel Island IT company, iConsult believes that IT companies could significantly reduce the millions of tonnes of computer waste generated each year by taking a fresh look at the way they build their IT networks.
Computer waste, is both the fastest growing form of municipal waste, with an estimated 50 million tonnes of waste generated annually and is extremely hazardous, a typical computer contains toxic chemicals such as selenium, cadmium, cobalt and mercury. If these are not disposed of properly, they can leach into the soil and ultimately into the food chain.
Tony Moffa, Business Development Director at iConsult, believes that a move away from the traditional in-house model of building computer networks can significantly reduce the amount of computer hardware businesses will need to buy.
Hosted networks
He says: “Rather than each business buying computer servers and building its own network, it’s possible to share servers with other companies. This not only saves money but clearly cuts down on the amount of hardware needed to service local businesses.” This system, known as a ‘hosted applications’ network is far more equipment efficient than the traditional model.
“In the same way that commuters are being encouraged to share cars in order to cut down on congestion and pollution, hosted applications enable businesses to share server space. This uses equipment far more efficiently than in-house networks, which often do not use hardware to its full potential.”
Companies that move away from the traditional network model and adopt a hosted network, are able to cut down on expense and waste immediately.
Tony Moffa said: “One client was able to remove six servers from their offices, knowing that they will not need to buy any again. Normally, computer servers have a three year lifespan which means that even small companies can generate large amounts of e-waste over 20 or 30 years of operation.
“It’s estimated that over 200 tonnes of computing equipment waste is generated in the Channel Islands (population of just 160,000) each year. This is quite a lot for such a small population and although many businesses donate their equipment to developing countries, recent statements by Achim Steiner, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), show that in spite of the obvious good intentions behind this, much of the equipment is inappropriate for the conditions and needs in the receiving countries. It makes more sense to reduce the amount of waste generated in the first place, which is what hosted applications are so good at.
“Most businesses have massive over-capacity when it comes to computing power, using hosted applications can end the discrepancy between what is provided and what is actually used.”
eWaste initiative
iConsult has also started a project called the e-waste initiative. This simple innovation has seen businesses passing on their unwanted computer equipment to schools and charitable organisations. iConsult facilitate the process by removing the equipment and reformatting it before handing it over to organisations that have already expressed an interest in receiving particular items of hardware.
So far, the eWaste initiative has proved to be very popular with equipment being passed to six schools and a charity in the Channel Islands. 250 computers have been saved from the rubbish tip and the schools have saved a great deal of money.
Tony Moffa, said: “The beauty of the eWaste initiative is that it is so simple. At iConsult, we keep a database of schools and organisations that have requested equipment. We match their needs with the equipment that businesses have available and pass it on after re-formatting. This way there is no issue about the suitability of equipment, as mentioned by Achim Steiner. Because business machines are usually of a high specification, schools have often found them to be better than the equipment that they had previously purchased themselves.
“In order to make a real difference to the amount of eWaste in the islands we’ve made the initiative open to any business or non-profit organisation in the Islands. If we were to restrict it to our clients the effect would be greatly minimised.
“The initiative has been easy to set up and run, which means that any IT services company can do so themselves. There are benefits that run beyond the environmental advantages, such as PR and the generation of a greater awareness of our company. These have served to make it an even more worthwhile scheme.”
Gibfocus (Gibraltar): Local Expert Commissioned by the United Nations to Advice on Strengthening International Systems for Environmental Emergency Response
13th February 2008
(2008-02-13 20:59:00)
Local Emergency Management Consultant Joe Bishop has been commissioned by the Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies (AGEE) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), to conduct a thorough global analysis of existing mechanisms, instruments and best practice regarding the offer and receipt of international assistance in the field of environmental emergency response.

Globally, the number and intensity of environmental emergencies continues to increase, including as a result of climate change. Comprehensive, inclusive strategies are required to strengthen many elements of the international regime for environmental emergencies preparedness and response. In particular, experience over the past 10-15 years points to clear challenges that may reduce the effectiveness and efficiency of response to various disasters. There are, for example, gaps in areas of environmental emergency response and response preparedness, including the lack of an international notification system.

The study will include the review of lessons learned from previous disasters where assistance was requested and received and identification and analysis of existing mechanisms for the notification and facilitation of international assistance activities at national level, including the transboundary effects of industrial accidents.

Joe is expected to visit and liaise closely in his work with the Governments of Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, USA and others, including agencies and institutions such as the E U Civil Protection Mechanism, NATO, Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) – Environment Directorate, BASF Germany and other stakeholders and leaders in environmental emergencies international response.

On the basis of the analysis Joe will be producing best practice guidelines including a comprehensive set of recommendations for the tools, instruments and mechanisms necessary for the facilitation of good practice in providing and receiving assistance on national level, for dissemination to national governments.

In addition Joe has been tasked with providing guidance material and Terms of Reference for the nomination of National Focal Points (NFPs) for Environmental Emergencies, including ways and means for the maintenance of a global system of NFPs by national authorities. The initiative is expected to strengthen the global network for reporting environmental emergencies and allowing the international response community to response in an efficient, effective and timely manner.

Joe has worked extensively with the UNEP/OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance) Joint Unit in Geneva, on issues relating to rapid assessments following environmental emergencies, and is in their list of approved consultants for global environmental emergency response. _______________________________________________________________________ Everest 2008: Eco Everest Expedition 2008
Focusing on climate change in the Himalayas and celebrating ICIMOD’s 25 years for mountains and people
Eco Everest Expedition 2008 will climb Mount Everest in the spring of 2008 to raise awareness on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. Dawa Steven Sherpa of Asian Trekking will lead the expedition, which will be in partnership with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Accompanying the expedition is Ken Noguchi, a Japanese alpinist and conservationist who acts as senior advisor to Eco Everest. The expedition is also supported and endorsed by the pioneering US mountaineer Conrad Anker. Dawa Steven, an Everest summiteer, has his roots and close cultural ties in the Khumbu region. In recent years he has become acutely aware of the threat of climate change on this vulnerable habitat that is both a major world water resource and climate regulator.
Says Dawa Steven: ‘I fulfilled my dream and stood on the summit of Mount Everest in May 2007. The world was at my feet. But I also noticed strange things happening. The solid ice of the Khumbu icefall had melted into slush and, on the way down, was crackling and crumbling beneath my feet. Fellow Sherpas on the mountain were running for their lives and asking me to get down as quickly as possible. I did, and on that same day the entire ice field simply collapsed. I was shocked, and wanted to understand why this had happened. After returning to Kathmandu I began my quest for answers. Most of my findings pointed towards the effects of global warming.’
Eco Everest Expedition 2008 will be a platform to draw maximum global attention to the issues of climate change and melting glaciers in the Himalayas. It will specifically highlight the threats glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) pose to the local communities and environment in the region. It will also raise awareness on early warning systems and on conserving the fragile mountain ecosystem.
As the main partner for the Eco Everest Expedition 2008, ICIMOD will provide technical support and carry out scientific research in the Khumbu region, focusing on the Imja and Dig Tsho glacial lakes. For ICIMOD, the year 2008 also marks its 25th anniversary of working for mountains and people in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH). ICIMOD is celebrating this occasion with a year-long series of events aiming at raising awareness, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and enhancing the adaptation and resilience of the mountain people. Eco Everest Expedition 2008 is one of the major events for this Silver Jubilee.
Mountains cover one-fifth of the globe, and almost half of humanity depends on the mountain ecosystems in one way or the other. The HKH region is an integral part of the global ecosystem. This mountain region is rich in biological and environmental resources and serves as a water tower for the region, and the world. Nine Himalayan river systems flow along these ranges and provide direct basis for livelihoods for over 150 million people. In total they sustain the lives of over 1.3 billion people – a fifth of the world’s population. However, this environment is now under constant threat as a result of environmental degradation and climate change. These have exacerbated environmental hazards such as landslides, floods, and GLOFs, and on the other extreme, severe droughts.
As part of the expedition, a Trust Fund will be set up exclusively for community development in the Khumbu region and to finance further research and monitoring of particularly dangerous glacial lakes. The Fund will also finance clean-up campaigns, awareness raising workshops amongst local communities, a photo exhibition, and an Information Centre at Everest Base Camp to inform visitors on the risks of GLOFs. Plans are underway to develop a ten-point recommendation for an "Eco Code of Conduct" (ECC) which will be field-tested during the Eco Everest Expedition 2008. This Code has been developed co-operation with renowned mountaineers and various alpine associations around the world.
• Climate change is having a strong affect on the Himalayan glaciers; most are retreating at a fast rate.
• As the glaciers retreat, lakes can form between the piles of rocks and stones (moraine ridge) that mark the earlier end of the glacier, and the new end of the glacier which is now higher up the valley. The debris acts like a dam ridge, but the wall is often loose and can break suddenly, leading to an outburst of water (glacial lake outburst flood or GLOF). ICIMOD identified nearly 15,000 glaciers and 9,000 glacial lakes, more than 200 of them potentially dangerous, in a survey of glaciers and lakes in Bhutan and Nepal, and selected (HKH) basins in China, India, and Pakistan.
• If the glaciers continue to shrink, this could have a profound impact on the water flowing through the nine major river basins originating in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. The total amount of water in the rivers might increase as the glaciers melt, but when the total amount of ice in the glaciers drops below a critical level, the flow is likely to decline. The seasonal changes in the flow will also be affected. Some changes in the patterns of water flow have already been observed in some rivers in Nepal.
• The permanent snowline has already moved higher, but as yet there are no scientific observations available that can be used to calculate the real reduction in snow and ice cover in the region.
• Floods and droughts are likely to increase both because of the loss of glacier area, and because of increases in extreme rain and snowfall events.
ICIMOD is a centre where information and knowledge are exchanged and where innovation, technology transfer, and effective communications are used to empower stakeholders in the member countries. Within this mission, ICIMOD wants to be an open-house of knowledge sharing for initiatives both from the region and from the world; it is a regional platform, where policymakers, experts, planners, and practitioners can meet and exchange ideas and perspectives. ICIMOD wants to facilitate knowledge transfer across the region and from providers to users. ICIMOD sees knowledge-sharing initiatives as a source of inspiration, innovation, and questioning, and as an opportunity to customise international knowledge to tailor it to the needs of the region and to help in the design of future strategies.
ICIMOD focuses particularly on the adaptation of the HKH region and its mountain population to the changes brought about by globalisation – in the form of growth, migration and accelerated communication – and climate change, for example changing biodiversity, changing precipitation patterns and higher frequency and intensity of natural hazards. The holistic approach favours interdisciplinary problem analysis, design, implementation, and monitoring of social as well as technical aspects; which includes the crosscutting criteria of policy, governance, equity, and gender and mainstreaming information and knowledge management principles.
The ICIMOD Strategic Framework has identified three Strategic Programmes - Integrated Water and Hazards Management (IWHM), Environmental Change and Ecosystems Services (ECES), Sustainable Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction (SLPR) which are interdependent and interlinked. These three thrusts are supported by information and knowledge management facilitating knowledge transfer across the region and from providers to users.
Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350 meters)
This is a picture of the popular South Col Route up Mt. Everest. Base camp is located at 17,500 feet. This is where climbers begin their true trip up the mountain. This is also where support staff often remain to monitor the expeditions and provide medical assistance when necessary. Many organizations offer hiking trips which just go to base camp as the trip is not technically challenging (though you must be very fit).
From base camp, climbers typically train and acclimate (permitting the body to adjust to the decreased oxygen in the air) by traveling and bringing supplies back and forth through the often treacherous Khumbu Icefall. This training and recuperation continues throughout the climb, with the final summit push often being the only time to climbers do not go back and forth between camps to train, bring supplies, and recuperate for the next push.
The Icefall is in constant motion. It contains enormous ice seracs, often larger than houses, which dangle precariously over the climbers heads, threatening to fall at any moment without warning, as the climbers cross endless crevasses and listen to continuous ice creaking below. This often acts as a testing ground to judge if less experienced climbers will be capable of continuing. The Icefall is located between 17,500 and 19,500 feet.
Camp I - 5900 meters
After the Icefall, the climbers arrive at Camp I, which is located at 19,500 feet. Depending on the type of expedition, Camp I will either be stocked by the climbers as they ascend and descend the Icefall, or by Sherpas in advance.
The area between Camp I and Camp II is known as the Western Cwm. As the climbers reach Camp II at 21,000 feet, they may be temporarily out of sight of their support at Base camp. Nonetheless, modern communication devises permit the parties to stay in contact.
Camp II - 6500 meters
As the climbers leave Camp II, they travel towards the Lhotse face (Lhotse is a 27,920 foot mountain bordering Everest). The Lhotse face is a steep, shiny icy wall. Though not technically extremely difficult, one misstep or slip could mean a climber's life. Indeed, many climbers have lost their lives through such mishaps.
Camp III - 23,700 feet (7200 meters)
To reach Camp III, climbers must negotiate the Lhotse Face. Climbing a sheer wall of ice demands skill, strength and stamina. It is so steep and treacherous that many Sherpas move directly from Camp II to Camp IV on the South Col, refusing to stay on the Lhotse Face.
Camp IV - 26,300 feet (8000 meters)
As you’re leaving C4…it’s a little bit of a down slope, with the uphill side to the left. There are typically snow on the ledges to walk down on, interspersed with rock, along with some fixed rope. The problem with the rope is that the anchors are bad, and there’s not much holding the rope and a fall could be serious. Fortunately it’s not too steep, but there is a ton of exposure and people are usually tired when walking down from camp. The rock is a little down sloping to the right as well, and with crampons on, it can be bit tricky with any kind of wind. There’s a little short slope on reliable snow which leads to the top of the Geneva Spur, and the wind pressure gradient across the spur can increase there as you’re getting set up for the rappel. Wearing an oxygen mask here can create some footing issues during the rappel, because it’s impossible to see over the mask and down to the feet. For that reason, some people choose to leave Camp 4 without gas, as it’s easier to keep moving down the Spur when it’s important to see all the small rock steps and where the old feet are going. Navigating down through all of the spaghetti of fixed ropes is a bit of a challenge, especially with mush for brains at that point. One lands on some lower ledges which aren’t so steep, where fixed ropes through here are solid. At this point, it’s just a matter of staying upright, and usually, the wind has died significantly after dropping off the Spur. The route turns hard to the left onto the snowfield that leads to the top of the Yellow Bands.
Camp IV, which is at 26,300 on the Lhotse face, is typically the climbers' first overnight stay in the Death Zone. The Death Zone is above 26,000 feet. Though there is nothing magical about that altitude, it is at this altitude that most human bodies lose all ability to acclimate. Accordingly, the body slowly begins to deteriorate and die - thus, the name "Death Zone." The longer a climber stays at this altitude, the more likely illness (HACE - high altitude cerebral edema - or HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema) or death will occur. Most climbers will use oxygen to climb and sleep at this altitude and above. Generally, Sherpas refuse to sleep on the Lhotse face and will travel to either Camp II or Camp IV.
Camp IV is located at 26,300 feet. This is the final major camp for the summit push. It is at this point that the climbers make their final preparations. It is also a haven for worn-out climbers on their exhausting descent from summit attempts (both successful and not). Sherpas or other climbers will often wait here with supplies and hot tea for returning climbers.
From Camp IV, climbers will push through the Balcony, at 27,500 feet, to the Hillary Step at 28,800 feet. The Hillary Step, an over 70 foot rock step, is named after Sir. Edmond Hillary, who in 1953, along with Tenzing Norgay, became the first people to summit Everest. The Hillary Step, which is climbed with fixed ropes, often becomes a bottleneck as only one climber can climb at a time. Though the Hillary Step would not be difficult at sea level for experienced climbers, at Everest's altitude, it is considered the most technically challenging aspect of the climb.
Summit - 29,028 feet (8848 meters)
Once the climbers ascend the Hillary Step, they slowly and laboriously proceed to the summit at 29,028 feet. The summit sits at the top of the world. Though not the closest place to the sun due to the earth's curve, it is the highest peak on earth. Due to the decreased air pressure, the summit contains less than one third the oxygen as at sea level. If dropped off on the summit directly from sea level (impossible in reality), a person would die within minutes. Typically, climbers achieving the great summit will take pictures, gain their composure, briefly enjoy the view, then return to Camp IV as quickly as possible. The risk of staying at the summit and the exhaustion from achieving the summit is too great to permit climbers to fully enjoy the great accomplishment at that moment.
As most readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the climb to the summit. _______________________________________________________________________
UNCTAD: 12 Feb 08 - Promoting responsible investment requires good corporate disclosure practices
ISAR"Transparency and disclosure is the key for evaluating emerging market companies," said a representative of Standard & Poor's during a recent public-private sector dialogue. Standard & Poor's was in Geneva to present its new environmental, social and corporate governance index of Indian companies.
A public-private sector dialogue on "Promoting Responsible Investment in Emerging Markets" was organized by UNCTAD and the office of the Principles for Responsible Investment in Geneva on 6 February 2008.
Nazha Benabbes Taarji-Aschenbrenner (UNCTAD Enterprise Development Branch), Paul Clements-Hunt (UNEP Finance Initiative, PRI Board)
In addition to Standard & Poor's, the event featured speakers from UNCTAD, the PRI, the UNEP Finance Initiative, the International Finance Corporation, and KLD Analytics & Research. The chairperson for the event was Mr. Paul Hilton, the Director of Advanced Equities Research at the United States based asset management firm Calvert. With more than 120 people in attendance from government, industry and academia, the dialogue provided a rich exchange of views.
Speakers from Standard & Poor's provided an in depth look at the methodology behind their new environmental, social and governance (ESG) index of Indian companies. Standard & Poor's reviewed some 500 publicly listed companies in India, and ranked them according to ESG practices. The top 50 companies make up the new index. One of the main screening criteria for the index was the availability of corporate disclosures on environmental, social and corporate governance issues. As Standard & Poor's representatives explained, the less information that companies disclosed, the lower their position in the ranking.
"This clear link between disclosure and the ability of enterprises to attract investment also extends to newer areas of reporting, including disclosure of environmental and social issues."
Nazha Benabbes Taarji-Aschenbrenner OIC, UNCTAD's Enterprise Development Branch
It was generally agreed by the gathered experts that good corporate disclosure is an important tool for enterprises trying to attract investment. "This clear link between disclosure and the ability of enterprises to attract investment also extends to newer areas of reporting, including disclosure of environmental and social issues," said Nazha Benabbes Taarji-Aschenbrenner, the OIC of UNCTAD's Enterprise Development Branch. Speakers from UNCTAD, the IFC and the PRI emphasised this link, observing that many investors increasingly see environmental, social and governance issues as interrelated issues that reflect an enterprise's management quality and level of risk. It was argued that good practices in ESG disclosure indicated that a company was at least aware of its situation and in a position to address potential risks.
The event also provided useful networking opportunities. Representatives from one developing country contacted Standard & Poor's after the event to express interest in creating an ESG stock index for their country. Additionally, a number of public and private sector bodies discussed increased cooperation on promoting investment in emerging markets. _______________________________________________________________________
Turkish Daily: Monaco to host environment forum
(Article also appears in AFP)
The biggest gathering of environment ministers since December's climate change conference in Bali will take place in Monaco late this month, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said yesterday. "More than 100 ministers from across the globe are scheduled to attend the Global Ministerial Environment Forum - the world's forum for environment ministers," UNEP said in a statement.
_______________________________________________________________________ La gran sopa del Pacífico
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Por Juan Gelman
Es de desechos de plástico, flota en el Océano Pacífico, se extiende desde la costa de California, pasa Hawai, llega casi al Japón y tiene una superficie que duplica el territorio continental de EE.UU. Esta “Gran mancha de basura del Pacífico” –así la llaman– fue descubierta en 1997 y por mera casualidad. El ex marino y oceanógrafo estadounidense Charles Moore partió de Los Angeles con su yate para participar en una carrera en Hawai, tenía prisa, evitó las rutas más frecuentadas y el atajo lo llevó al descubrimiento. Navegó contra una selva de botellas y restos de plástico día tras día durante una semana. Su asombro y su disgusto fueron tales que vendió todas sus empresas, se convirtió en un activista de la preservación del océano y creó la Fundación Algalita de Investigaciones Marinas (AMRF, por sus siglas en inglés). No se conocen otros casos de herederos de grandes fortunas petroleras que hayan incurrido en semejante actitud.
Charles Moore opina que alrededor de 100 millones de toneladas de desechos de plástico flotan en la región. Markus Eriksen, investigador de AMRF, declaró recientemente: “La gente pensaba que era un isla de basura plástica sobre la que casi se podía caminar. No es así. Es como una sopa de plástico”. Que suele convertir a las playas de Hawai en un sucio vertedero. La mayor parte de esos residuos no proviene –como antes– de los buques que surcan las aguas del Pacífico. Sus principales abastecedores moran en tierra firme. Producen 60 mil millones de toneladas de plástico cada año y los residuos de su materia prima son tan livianos que pueden ser arrastrados por los vientos y mantenerse en la superficie de las aguas. Se estima que constituyen el 90 por ciento de los desperdicios que padece el norte del Pacífico central; flotan y recorren largas distancias a lomo de las corrientes marinas. No sin consecuencias contrarias a la biodiversidad del medio.
La AMRF señala en un informe que las partículas de plástico afectan al menos a 267 especies marinas en todo el mundo, incluyendo al 86 por ciento de todas las clases de tortugas, al 44 por ciento de las especies de aves y al 43 por ciento de las especies de mamíferos del mar (, 9-4-07). Aves y mamíferos marinos confunden las partículas con huevos de pescado. Un ejemplo: el 40 por ciento de los pichones de albatros del atolón hawaiano de Midway muere prematuramente por esa confusión. En el estómago de algunos mamíferos se han encontrado jeringas, encendedores, cepillos de dientes y otros objetos que creyeron alimento. Aún no se conoce a fondo el impacto de la diseminación de plásticos en los ecosistemas marinos y se ignora cuánto tiempo debe transcurrir antes de que esas partículas se biodegraden. Probablemente siglos.
La basura se acumula sin pausa en las aguas norteñas del Pacífico central: se multiplicó por tres en una década y en las costas del Japón se decuplica cada 2 o 3 años (, 2005). En esa región del océano hay seis vórtices de convergencia sometidos a una elevada presión atmosférica. Las corrientes marinas son débiles allí y el total de las partículas de plástico pesa seis veces más que el plancton de esos lugares (Los Angeles Times, 2-8-06). Plancton que, como otros invertebrados marinos, también ingiere plástico para su desgracia y la ajena. Las partículas flotantes transportan además organismos marinos que emigran y esa mezcla biótica los convierte en especies depredadoras que también amenazan la biodiversidad del medio. En las costas de la Florida han aparecido dos especies de esa índole que avanzan hacia las aguas del Caribe.
Un estudio del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (Pnuma) concluye que más de un millón de aves y más de 100.000 mamíferos marinos mueren cada año por la ingestión de desechos plásticos. El problema es grave: para lograr mayor flexibilidad, duración y resistencia al calor del material, se agrega a la materia prima aditivos y sustancias que convierten a los desperdicios en una suerte de esponjas químicas que absorben hidrocarbonos y pesticidas. Existe el peligro de que por esa vía ingresen a la cadena alimentaria humana. “Lo que entra en el océano entra en esos animales y llega al plato de comida. Así de simple”, sentenció el Dr. Eriksen.
De fuentes territoriales llega al océano el 80 por ciento de las partículas de plástico (Pnuma, 1995), la mayoría de los cuales no se puede quitar del agua en razón de su pequeñez y abundancia. La solución del problema consistiría en reciclar en tierra los restos de plástico antes de que se internen en el mar, pero actualmente sólo se procesa del 3 al 5 por ciento del desecho. Más de dos tercios de la superficie terrestre están cubiertos por océanos y mares interconectados. El problema es global.
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Actualidad.terra: Santos promoverá en Europa una campaña de 'responsabilidad compartida' sobre efectos del consumo de cocaína

El vicepresidente de Colombia, Francisco Santos, promoverá en varios países europeos la campaña 'Responsabilidad Compartida', con la que busca generar conciencia en la comunidad internacional sobre las graves consecuencias ambientales y sociales que la producción y el consumo de cocaína implican para el país sudamericano.

El Consejo de Administración del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (Pnuma), que se reunirá en Mónaco, y la Conferencia Anual de la Agencia de Control de Drogas de Escocia serán los próximos escenarios en los cuales la campaña 'Responsabilidad Compartida' difundirá su mensaje.

Esta campaña está siendo apoyada por la Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes de Colombia, la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas contra la Droga y el Delito y la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Bogotá, según destacó el Gobierno en un comunicado.

El próximo 21 de febrero, en Mónaco, Santos tiene previsto reunirse en privado con 25 ministros de Medio Ambiente procedentes de África, Europa y Asia, a quienes expondrá el alto costo ambiental que paga Colombia por cuenta del narcotráfico.

Al día siguiente, encabezará la delegación colombiana en el Décimo Período de Sesiones Extraordinarias del Consejo de Administración del Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (Pnuma), a la cual están invitados los ministros de Medio Ambiente de los 180 países que integran la ONU.

En un panel de alto nivel, el vicepresidente Santos ahondará en la necesidad de una mayor comprensión del problema por parte de la comunidad internacional, así como de la importancia de un trabajo conjunto para combatirlo.

Posteriormente, el 5 de marzo, Santos viajará a Escocia para participar en la clausura de la Conferencia Anual de la Agencia de Control de Drogas de este país, a la cual asistirán las más altas autoridades que trabajan en las áreas de prevención y control de consumo.

Celebrada en Glasgow, esta conferencia tiene como tema central la responsabilidad global de Escocia frente a su consumo de drogas. Allí, el vicepresidente presentará la iniciativa de 'Responsabilidad Compartida' como una herramienta de prevención escolar.
________________________________________________________________________ El primer testigo en la causa Botnia alertó por contaminación
Juez Guillermo Quadrini
Juez Guillermo Quadrini
PARANÁ, 13 FEB (LAVOZ901.COM.AR) [05:56 ]
- Héctor Sejenovich, el primer testigo en presentarse a declarar en el Juzgado Federal de Concepción del Uruguay en la causa contra Botnia, alertó por la contaminación que generará la pastera en la región de Fray Bentos. Se trata de un economista experto en materia ambiental, que coordinó la elaboración del informe de la Asamblea de Gualeguaychú sobre los efectos de la papelera y el lucro cesante que generará en la zona.

El juez federal uruguayense, Guillermo Quadrini, comenzó así a tomar declaración a testigos en la causa por el presunto delito de Contaminación en grado de tentativa contra directivos de la empresa Botnia. Sejenovich declaró el lunes y su testimonio fue el inicio del análisis de las pruebas del posible daño que causará la papelera al río Uruguay.
Para hoy a las 8.30 está prevista la declaración testimonial de Elías Matta, docente e investigador del Centro de Tecnología Celulósica de la Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL), uno de los principales especialistas en celulosa del país que incluso integra el equipo que representa a Argentina ante la Corte de La Haya.
En tanto, mañana será el turno de Ariel Carabajal, director del Centro Tecnológico para la Sustentabilidad de la Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (UTN); el viernes Lucio Janiot, químico del Servicio de Hidrografía Naval –lo hará ante un juez cercano a su domicilio–; el lunes 18 José Eliseo Lobos, del Instituto Nacional del Agua (INA); el martes 19 Luis De Tullio, del Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial (INTI); y el miércoles 20 Alberto Espinach, del Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (Inidep), según el cronograma proporcionado a UNO por fuentes ligadas a la causa.
Todos son especialistas en medio ambiente y han participado en la elaboración de informes sobre el peligro contaminante de la pastera Botnia. Algunos integraron el Grupo Técnico de Alto Nivel (GTAN) que conformaron tiempo atrás ambos países en procura de hallar un acuerdo en torno de la instalación de la pastera, objetivo que finalmente no se alcanzó.
Por su parte, Raúl Estrada Oyuela, representante especial para Asuntos Medioambientales Internacionales de la Cancillería, declarará mediante oficio que remitirá al juez.
Mientras tanto, los asambleístas de Gualeguaychú se reunirán hoy en el teatro de la ciudad para finalizar la confección del temario que llevarán cinco representantes del grupo a la audiencia de mañana con la presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, en la Casa Rosada. Según ya se ha conocido, el reclamo principal tendrá que ver con la aplicación del Código Aduanero, para impedir el paso de camiones con materia prima para la producción de Botnia.
Héctor Sejenovich es consultor sobre temas ambientales en varios países, y también prestó servicios en el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (Pnuma). Declaró durante dos horas ante el magistrado “respecto de lo que podía aportar en cuanto a la posibilidad de contaminación” que implica la producción de Botnia, explicó él mismo.
Relató los trabajos realizados en el río fronterizo con el fin de conocer las eventuales consecuencias que podría acarrear la pastera Botnia instalada en Fray Bentos y afirmó que describió “los enormes riesgos de contaminación que existe en este tipo de empresas, la más grande del mundo, en un lugar tan pequeño como el Uruguay, sobre todo por la falta de experiencia en el manejo”.
“Yo profundicé los aspectos sociales y económicos, más allá de que no estaban considerados en la causa, para demostrar cuáles son los móviles para realizar un emprendimiento de este tipo, explicando que por cuestiones económicas utilizan una tecnología no liberada de cloro, con un nivel de escala en la producción monstruosa”, precisó en declaraciones a Radio Máxima de Gualeguaychú.
Sejenovich anticipó: “Indudablemente va a haber un proceso de contaminación del ambiente y eso afectará a las personas y traerá como consecuencia daños a la salud, pérdidas económicas en las actividades productivas y degradación del ambiente”.
En la causa prestarán testimonio integrantes de la Asamblea Ambiental de Gualeguaychú. Además el juez para que declaren entre el 25 y el 28 de marzo a Ronald Beare, Kaisu Annala, Carlos Faropa y Erkky Varis, todos ejecutivos de Botnia.
Protestas en Uruguay
Los trabajadores nucleados en el Sindicato Único de la Construcción y Afines (Sunca) de Uruguay anunciaron que volverán a reunirse el viernes para definir la modalidad de un nuevo paro general de actividades, luego de la muerte de un obrero de la planta pastera Botnia. El sindicato cumplió el lunes un paro nacional entre las 9 y las 13, en reclamo de mayores medidas de seguridad en la actividad, que tuvo un amplio acatamiento. (Diario Uno)
Radio La Voz – La Voz Digital

Actu-environment: Monaco accueillera le Forum Ministériel Mondial sur l'Environnement

La Principauté de Monaco accueillera, du 20 au 22 février 2008, la 10ème Session Spéciale du Conseil d'Administration du Programme des Nations Unies pour l'Environnement (PNUE) / Forum Ministériel Mondial sur l'Environnement. Plus de 100 ministres du monde entier y sont attendus ainsi que des cadres supérieurs de l'industrie et de l'économie, de la science, des gouvernements locaux, de la société civile, des syndicats et des organes intergouvernementaux.

Le Forum ministériel est placé sous le thème ''mobiliser un financement pour relever le défi climatique'' et abordera une économie mondiale ''verte''.

Nous apercevons déjà une transition vers une société à faible carbone. Des milliards de dollars sont actuellement investis dans les énergies renouvelables et des centaines d'institutions avec plusieurs mille milliards de dollars d'actifs sont maintenant en train d'appuyer les principes d'investissement qui tiennent compte des préoccupations environnementales, ainsi que les questions sociales et de gouvernance, a déclaré Mr. Steiner, Sous-secrétaire Général et Directeur Exécutif du PNUE.

Concevoir et livrer une économie verte permettra non seulement d'éviter le changement climatique dangereux et débilitant. Elle peut également adresser les énormes défis de durabilité soulignés dans le rapport récent du PNUE- Avenir de l'environnement mondial- GEO4, provenant de la perte rapide de la biodiversité et de la dégradation de l'écosystème ainsi que l'effondrement des stocks de poissons et les sols appauvris, a-t-il ajouté.

Le PNUE estime que les investissements mondiaux réalisés dans les énergies propres atteindront 1 900 milliards de dollars d'ici à 2020.

L'adoption de la nouvelle Stratégie du PNUE à moyen terme sera également à l'ordre du jour du Forum. Cette stratégie est conçue pour aider l'institution à évoluer pour devenir un organe plus efficace, plus ciblé, plus effectif, mieux équipé et basé sur des résultats pour faire face aux défis de la durabilité du 21ème siècle, a souligné le PNUE. La réunion abordera aussi l'amélioration du financement pour l'approche stratégique de la gestion internationale des produits chimiques, et la mesure dans laquelle la communauté internationale avance sur la gestion du mercure.

La réunion sera précédée le 19 février par la session du Forum mondial de la société civile dont l'objectif est d'exprimer l'opinion de la société civile sur les thématiques du débat ministériel.


Elmercuriodigital: PNUMA auspicia una reunión medioambiental latinoamericana

Escrito por El Mercurio Digital
25-01-2008 a las 12:52:07
El Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) auspiciará una reunión en Santo Domingo en la que participarán ministros a cargo de ese tema.

El evento, que comenzará el domingo próximo, se celebra cada dos años. Es la reunión más importante de los gobiernos de la región donde se analizan las políticas medioambientales.

Enrique Leff, coordinador de la Oficina del PNUMA en México, dijo que todos los países latinoamericanos y caribeños, de una manera u otra, han tomado medidas relacionadas con la concepción actual del desarrollo económico y humano.

“Y ahí se llegan a acuerdos sobre una agenda común para avanzar en temas como la transición energética de América Latina, la educación ambiental, la conservación de “los comunes” como se llama, de la biodiversidad, de los temas de legislación ambiental, los instrumentos económicos y otros instrumentos de gestión ambiental. Éstos son algunos de los temas que se tratarán en esa reunión de ministros”, señaló.

Leff añadió que ahora, con más énfasis que nunca, la región se concentrará en el cambio climático.

Recalcó que América Latina no es la región que más contribuye a ese desastre socioambiental. Sin embargo, ante esta crisis, corresponde a todos las naciones, por pequeñas que sean, asumir su responsabilidad y prepararse también para las consecuencias que está teniendo ya el cambio

Terra Espana: Fotos de los devastadores efectos de los cultivos ilícitos en Colombia recorrerán Europa

Una selección de fotografías sobre los devastadores efectos de los cultivos ilegales en los bosques tropicales en Colombia se expondrá en una docena de ciudades europeas para denunciar la destrucción de dos millones de hectáreas en 10 ó 15 años, anunció hoy el vicepresidente Francisco Santos.

Fotos de los devastadores efectos de los cultivos
La muestra de 42 fotografías, titulada 'La catástrofe silenciosa', estará primero en Mónaco, donde el vicepresidente colombiano participará el próximo 20 de febrero en el período de sesiones del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA).

Las imágenes irán más tarde a Glasgow (Reino Unido), donde Santos intervendrá el 5 de marzo en la clausura de la Conferencia Anual de la Agencia de Control de Drogas de Escocia, que se centrará en la responsabilidad de ese territorio británico frente al consumo de drogas.

'Queremos que esta catástrofe silenciosa, que este 'ecocidio' sea uno de los asuntos más importantes del mundo', manifestó el vicepresidente Santos en una conferencia de prensa.

Santos recordó la tragedia ocasionada el 24 de marzo de 1989 por el petrolero Exxon Valdez en Alaska, que derramó 1,48 millones de barriles de crudo, y que fue primera página en las revistas más importantes del mundo, pero anotó que la tragedia colombiana es mayor y 'ningún ambientalista se ha quejado'.

El funcionario advirtió de que Colombia, considerada la nación con mayor biodiversidad del mundo después de Brasil, tiene más de 150 áreas naturales protegidas, un área que equivale al territorio de Bélgica.

Santos recordó que antes de esta exposición, la BBC de Londres divulgó hace pocas semanas un vídeo en el que el músico británico Alex James, bajista del grupo Blur, y quien admitió haberse gastado dos millones de dólares en cocaína, advirtió sobre los daños ecológicos que deben causarse en Colombia para poder producir droga.

También en marzo la exposición permanecerá en la sede de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) en Viena y después estará un mes en Varsovia y así en Londres, Berlín, en la sede del Parlamento Europeo en Bruselas, Copenhague, Amsterdam, París y Madrid y terminará en diciembre en Lisboa.

Las imágenes hacen énfasis en la riqueza ambiental colombiana, la destrucción de selvas por los cultivos ilícitos, la contaminación de fuentes de agua con los químicos usados para producir cocaína, la fauna y flora puesta en peligro por la siembra de coca y el procesamiento de cocaína, los efectos sociales de los cultivos ilícitos, la responsabilidad individual y el desarrollo alternativo.

El vicepresidente de Colombia insistirá en esos daños el 21 de febrero en Mónaco, cuando se reúna con 25 ministros del medio ambiente de países de África, Europa y Asia.

Al día siguiente encabezará la delegación del Gobierno colombiano en el Décimo Período de Sesiones Extraordinarias del Consejo de Administración del PNUMA, al que están invitados los ministros del área de los 180 países de la ONU.

Santos denunció además que la Unión Europea es en su conjunto el segundo consumidor de cocaína después de Estados Unidos y cada vez se acerca más, entre otras razones por la fortaleza del euro, que lleva a los narcotraficantes a apuntarle cada vez más al mercado europeo.

'Queremos mostrar esta catástrofe silenciosa que nadie ha querido ver pero que nosotros tenemos que vivir', manifestó el vicepresidente colombiano.

Añadió que se trata de 'despertar la conciencia' de los países consumidores de cocaína, desde que se tala un bosque para sembrar arbustos de coca hasta que se refina el polvillo blanco después de utilizar químicos que van a parar a los ríos terminando con especies de fauna y flora. ________________________________________________________________________

Univision: Ministra de medioambiente asistirá a reunión del PNUMA en Mónaco

12 de Febrero de 2008, 10:00pm ET

Managua, 12 feb (EFE).- La ministra de Recursos Naturales y del Ambiente de Nicaragua, Juana Argeñal, representará a este país en la reunión del Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA), que se celebrará en Mónaco del 19 al 20 de este mes.

Argeñal informó hoy a Efe que en ese foro se abordará todo lo que tiene que ver a escala mundial en materia de medio ambiente, cambio climático, desarrollo sostenible, planificación y ordenamiento territorial.

Señaló que Nicaragua está muy interesada en participar en esa cita de Mónaco, luego de asistir a la reunión preparatoria a nivel latinoamericano y caribeño, que se efectuó recientemente en República Dominicana.

Manifestó que en República Dominicana se habló de todos los temas que van a ser propuestos en la reunión mundial de la Secretaría del Ambiente del PNUMA en Mónaco.

"Se han dejado bien claro en Dominicana los avances que debemos tener en relación a los efectos que tiene el cambio climático para nuestros países pobres y caribeños insulares, como es la alta vulnerabilidad ante los fenómenos naturales y el cambio climático", agregó Argeñal.

Apuntó que los gobiernos de los países pobres tienen que trabajar en materia de producción limpia, mitigación y movilización a nivel nacional en las universidades y el pueblo en general, en función de que la comunidad esté informada acerca de los cambios que se dan en la naturaleza.

Argeñal añadió que también se debe trabajar juntos para estar preparados para reducir los embates que puedan tener tanto los fenómenos naturales, que van a ser más recurrentes cada día, como el cambio climático.

Sostuvo que ha habido una falta de planificación territorial y de ordenamiento ambiental y abogó porque las comunidades no sigan viviendo en las laderas de los cerros ni en las riberas de los ríos. ________________________________________________________________________

Other Environment News
FT: Pentagon faces a battle on climate change
By John Podesta and Peter Ogden
Published: February 14 2008 02:00 | Last updated: February 14 2008 02:00
In the run-up to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, businesspeople implored political leaders to take bold steps to combat global warming. They insisted that their ability to undertake effective long-term planning was undermined by uncertainty about the future cost of carbon emissions. Yet their calls for action were ignored.
Perhaps the outcome would have been different if the world's single largest organisation - the Pentagon - had joined the chorus. After all, it also needs to know what kind of environment to prepare for to allocate its vast resources efficiently. Planning for future contingencies is a long-term process, as force structure and weapons systems have to be co-ordinated at least a decade in advance.
The stakes are high. The consequence of the Pentagon's failure to prepare could result not just in lost dollars but also in lost lives.
There are five key areas in which effective military planning can be undermined by uncertainty over when and how the major carbon-emitting countries combat climate change.
First, climate change poses a threat to fragile states that lack the capacity to adapt to environmental shifts. The Pentagon needs to know if the military will be called upon to operate more often in countries that have collapsed or are on the brink of doing so. The risk of a regional conflagration sparked by global warming is particularly severe in east Africa and south Asia. How urgently should the Pentagon begin planning for such contingencies?
Second, the US military needs to know how significantly to expand its capacity to act as a first responder in times of natural disaster. Climate change will increase the frequency of large-scale disasters over the next three decades. But the scope of this threat will vary depending on what action is taken to minimise emissions. Although some of the emergencies created or exacerbated by climate change may be managed by the UN, the US military has an unrivalled capacity to act as a first responder in these situations.
Recall the Indian Ocean tsunami that struck a little more than three years ago: only the US could or would so rapidly have deployed and sustained the 15,000 troops, two dozen ships and 100 aircraft needed for the mission. But if the US military anticipates being called upon more often to respond to such disasters then it needs clarity about how soon it should invest more resources into planning such missions.
Third, the US military will have to conduct traditional missions in increasingly adverse weather conditions. Planners must decide how soon to invest in equipment that worksbetter in storms, floods and other hostile climates.
Fourth, rising sea levels and other climatic factors could threaten the viability of bases on islands or low-lying coastal areas. The US military must know how urgently it needs to plan to protect or, in extreme circumstances, compensate for the loss of bases in strategic areas. The Diego Garcia atoll in the Indian Ocean, which serves as a major hub for US and British missions in the Middle East and is vital to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, may be at risk from climate change.
Moreover, expanding existing bases or creating new ones is often expensive and politically challenging. If the Pentagon had a clear sense of what steps were going to be taken to combat global warming, it might choose to invest more in developing its own offshore "sea basing" platforms that do not require host-country consent.
Fifth, the roles of the army and National Guard will need to evolve according to the degree of global warming. National Guard troops are responsible for responding when necessary to domestic natural disasters, but this may not be viable if their deployment overseas leaves the US short of troops and equipment at a time when extreme weather occurs more often at home. The Pentagon might need to begin helping to create a state-level home guard to take over domestic disaster duties from the National Guard.
While these challenges may seem far off, they are not. It is not too soon to begin factoring them into US security calculations. President George W. Bush knows today whether the US will build the national and international frameworks needed to forge a low-carbon future. The business, scientific and political community has failed to coax that information from him. Perhaps if the Pentagon asks, he will answer.
John Podesta is president of the Center for American Progress and was White House chief of staff from 1998 to 2001. Peter Ogden is senior national security analyst at the centre.
Press Association: Prince talks about climate change
1 hour ago
The Prince of Wales will give a speech on climate change to members of the European Parliament in Brussels.
Charles will address 150 British MEPs and representatives of the European Parliament's climate change and environment committees in a bid to focus attention on the issue.
The heir to the throne has repeatedly described climate change as the biggest challenge facing society and has strived to put his beliefs on the issue into practice.
In a talk to business leaders in Cardiff last November the Prince said: "I don't think there is a more urgent issue for any of us to be addressing at work, at home, and indeed in every facet of our lives, than climate change."
Charles was praised by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for his leadership in promoting environmental issues.
The Prince, who is coming to the end of a two-day visit to Belgium, was described as an inspiration for many in Europe and the rest of the world by the politician.
Last month the European Commission published ambitious climate change and energy proposals to tackle the phenomenon.
Charles' European Union Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change was one of a number of organisations to welcome the proposals.
The British Government has vowed to play its full part in reaching the tough targets with the UK told it should increase its use of energy produced by renewable sources from 2% to 15% by 2020.
The country should also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16% by the same deadline.

FT: Defeating climate change by air
Published: February 13 2008 19:48 | Last updated: February 13 2008 19:48
Wanted: one Churchill. Job description: to vanquish climate change. Apply to: Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group.
The Virgin Atlantic chief told the United Nations this week that he was planning to set up a “war room” on climate change.
Funded with a few million dollars of his own money, the organisation will consider “new and radical” ideas on climate change. He warned global warming would only be tackled if people took it as seriously as they did the British effort to win the second world war.
Sir Richard is tight-lipped on his favourites for the post of “the new Churchill” needed to head the war room, but Al Gore might have some free time while, if former British prime minister Tony Blair doesn’t get to be president of Europe, he too will be looking for a new challenge.
What will be the first task of the new Churchill? Climate experts tell us our runaway consumption of fossil fuels and the goods we make with them are causing the problem. That would have been familiar to the original Churchill, one of whose first actions in fighting Hitler was to ration essentials such as food, clothing and petrol.
During the war, British train stations and roadsides were plastered with posters asking: “Is your journey really necessary?”
So surely the new climate Churchill will put up the same posters at Virgin check-in desks.
Strategic differences
Hubertus von Grünberg – the turbocharged German who chairs automotive group, Continental, and, since last May, Swiss-Swedish ABB – has struck again. More than six years after ejecting Stephan Kessel, his chosen successor as chief executive of Conti, 65-year-old von Grünberg has removed another CEO, this time in Switzerland.
Wednesdays surprise departure of Fred Kindle, ABB’s respected chief executive, after “irreconcilable differences about how to lead the company”, left both investors and journalists sour. Von Grünberg said the rift had nothing to do with strategy or acquisitions, stressed ABB had no bad news around the corner and even went out of his way to praise Kindle. So what else?
Von Grünberg offered no guidance. But at least he set out his wish list for the successor: someone with a global, and not just European, employment record, acquisition experience and an ability to function with a strong team and not be a “prima donna”, he said.
That may favour Michel Demaré, ABB’s chief financial officer, who has stepped temporarily into Kindle’s shoes. Demaré, a 51-year-old Belgian who joined ABB in 2005, has worked in Europe and the US and is a firm believer that CFOs should be much more than just bean-counters.
Most important of all, perhaps; Kindle’s successor should be able to work with von Grünberg.
Sexy business
China is unembarrassed about its passion for state enterprise – but when it comes to sex products, one bit of the state seems to have been too enterprising.
Such is the sad story of the supposedly non-profit China Sexology Association. Set up by the government in 1994 to promote sexual knowledge and “spiritual civilisation”, the CSA has been banned for six months after being found to be running a lucrative trade in commercial recommendations and certification.
A recent sex culture festival in south China was a particularly nice little earner, with the association flogging copper plates bearing its name to dealers of “sex health products” for up to Rmb600 a pop.
“The CSA was founded in 1994 as an academic society and was not allowed to profit from business activities,” noted the Xinhua news agency prudishly.
Cynics may argue that such entrepreneurial rent-seeking is hardly rare in an economy where many successful state companies act as gatekeepers to closed sectors such as oil or telecommunications and private businesses often fall prey to graft-hungry officials.
Indeed, for all its supposedly academic identity, the sexology association began its love affair with certification more than a decade ago, when the government put it in charge of approving sex shops as part of a drive to “advocate advanced sex ideology”.
Writer’s cramp
Bill Miller is famous for having beaten the Standard & Poor’s 500 for 15 straight years. But, as he bluntly wrote in a compelling letter to investors in the fund he manages, Legg Mason’s Value Trust, he had “a bad 2007, which followed a bad 2006”.
How he does this year may depend on the fate of Countrywide Financial, the troubled US home mortgage group, and whether Microsoft succeeds in its bid for Yahoo. It also depends on how the market performs more generally. “I think the market is in for a period of what the Greeks refer to as enantiodromia, the tendency of things to swing to the other side,” he wrote.
Still, that does not mean Miller is waiting for that swinging tendency to kick in. He is using his influence to try to squeeze more juice out of Countrywide and Yahoo, complaining that the board of Countrywide accepted a buyout offer from Bank of America for a price that was too low.
And his sentiment about Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo was much the same. Miller says Microsoft will have to pay more than the current offer to get a deal done. This sounds like a man who thinks that sometimes things only swing to the other side with the help of a big push.

Jakarta Post: UN says okay to proposals on climate change, Myanmar

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted Indonesia's two initiatives including to form a high-level contact group on climate change and to solve Myanmar's problems.

The President said Ban told him during a telephone conversation Wednesday the UN conference on climate change in Indonesia last December was a success.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also said Ban had asked the country to run with the conference's momentum and to continue to address climate change.

"The Secretary-General has agreed to my recommendation on the need to establish a high-level contact group which will include myself, Polish and Danish leaders as well as the Secretary-General, UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer and other leaders," Yudhoyono told reporters at the Presidential Palace.

The contact group would discuss ways to ensure two UN conferences in Poland by the end of this year and in Denmark in 2009 can create concrete actions to solve climate change impacts.

The group would also focus on a framework for the post-Kyoto deal in 2012 based on what was achieved in Bali, Yudhoyono said.

He said the group would also focus on much-needed post-Kyoto targets for carbon reduction.

Yudhoyono said the Bali conference succeeded in drawing a clear line between "responsibilities of developed and developing countries within the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respected capabilities".

"I told the Secretary-General that what we achieved in Bali, such as the transfer of technology, financing, cooperation in adaptation and mitigation, and reforestation, were real and concrete achievements," he said.

"I and the Secretary-General agreed to have concrete progress on what we have achieved in Bali."

The Bali conference resulted in an action plan that set a late 2009 deadline for a landmark new treaty to cut emissions of greenhouse gases once the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Yudhoyono said Ban asked Indonesia to support UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari in opening communication between Myanmar's military junta leaders, especially Sen. Gen. Tan Shwe, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"I have supported Prof. Gambari's mission from the beginning.

"The Secretary General also asked me to continue efforts to open communication with Sen. Gen. Tan Shwe so that the world's hopes can be realized."

Yudhoyono also conveyed to Ban Indonesia's position to support the junta's plan to hold a referendum in May and a general election in 2010 and asked the international community to follow suit.

"I chose to be part of the process as long as they are inclusive and transparent.

"As there is a clear timeline then we should contribute to it.

"The world should understand that Myanmar has its own internal problems.

"I believe the democratization process can be done without threatening national integration," he said.

Reuters: INTERVIEW-Arctic ice unlikely to see record melt in 2008

Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:52am EST
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Arctic summer sea ice is unlikely to shrink drastically in 2008 beyond a record low set last year even though the long-term trend is a thaw tied to global warming, a leading scientist said on Wednesday.

Arctic sea ice, an indicator of climate change as it expands in winter and thaws in summer, shrank last September to a low of 4.1 million sq km (1.6 million sq miles), more than 1.2 million sq km less than the previous recorded low in 2005.

"My feeling is that the situation will probably be the same as last year, or maybe a slight recovery," Jean-Claude Gascard, head of the European Arctic research project Damocles, told Reuters.

"I would be very surprised if there would be another large drop this year. It would be really dramatic," said Gascard, of France's Universite Pierre et Marie Curie.

Some experts project that the ice could vanish in summer by mid-century, threatening the hunting livelihoods of Arctic indigenous peoples and species such as seals and polar bears while opening the region to oil and gas exploration or shipping.

Gascard said informal surveys by Damocles of scores of leading researchers, at meetings in San Francisco and in Oslo in recent months, showed that a large majority also expected the ice in 2008 to be unchanged from 2007 or slightly bigger.

"Very few said that there will be another drop as large as it was last summer," he said. The melt can accelerate climate change because tracts of darker water soak up far more of the sun's heat than reflective snow and ice.

"Rarely is there a drop of such magnitude in two consecutive years," he said of historical data, adding that the extreme 2007 thaw may be partly explained by natural variability rather than global warming alone.


Any surprise new fall to a record low would be a worrying sign that the ice had crossed a point of no return, a "tipping point" that could herald an accelerated disappearance of the ice.

"If we have two years in a row with a drastic drop in the ice extent at the end of the summer ... it would be a strong argument for having crossed a tipping point," he said.

The U.N. climate panel says it is more than 90 percent likely that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, are to blame for a warming projected to bring more floods, droughts and rising seas.

-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: here (Editing by Peter Millership) ________________________________________________________________________

Telegraph, UK: Shipping emissions three times higher than thought

By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Last Updated: 7:01pm GMT 13/02/2008

Greenhouse gas emissions from shipping are nearly three times higher than previously believed, according to a leaked UN study.

It calculates that emissions of greenhouse gases from ships have reached 1.12 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year and amounts to 4.5 per cent of all global emissions.

By comparison the aviation industry, which has been under heavy pressure to clean up, is responsible for about 650 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, just over half that from shipping.

Until now, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change has estimated shipping emissions to be a maximum of 400 million tons.

But a draft report by international scientists, using data collected from the oil and shipping industries for the International Maritime Organisation, shows that not only are emissions worse than feared, they are set to rise by a further 30 per cent by 2020.

At present, emissions from aviation and shipping are excluded from the Kyoto climate change treaty. Aviation has been provisionally included in the EU's emissions trading scheme but shipping has so far escaped.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said of the discovery: "This is a clear failure of the system. The shipping industry has so far escaped publicity. It has been left out of the climate change discussion.

"I hope [shipping emissions] will be included in the next UN agreement. It would be a cop out if it was not."

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP, for South East England, said: "These new figures highlight the shocking complacency of governments which have completely ignored shipping emissions.

"It is essential that our own government's new climate change Bill includes both shipping and aviation emissions and that measures are urgently brought forward at EU level."

Reuters: UPDATE 1-Ships' carbon output twice previous estimate-study

Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:55pm GMT

(Adds quotes, background)

By Stefano Ambrogi and Gerard Wynn

LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Emissions by global shipping of planet-warming carbon dioxide are more than double industry estimates and may rise another third by 2020 as trade grows, a report from the world's top maritime body shows.

The scientific report commissioned by the U.N. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) estimates annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from world shipping reached 1.12 billion tonnes in 2007, about 3.5 percent of global carbon emissions.

The study also said growing international seaborne trade and related fuel consumption will raise CO2 emissions from ships by 30 percent to 1.475 billion tonnes by 2020.

The trillion-dollar industry, which carries more than 90 percent of the world's traded goods by volume, has in the past frequently cited a carbon emissions figure for shipping of 1.4 percent of total greenhouse gases for 2000.

That figure was taken from a 2006 report prepared by former World Bank chief Nicholas Stern, which put shipping at slightly less than aviation and compared it with total transport emissions of 14 percent of CO2 emissions.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), a major industry body, has told Reuters in the past that a worst-case scenario put carbon emissions released by ships at between 3 to 4 percent of the world's total.

"In essence whether its 2 percent, 3.5 percent or 5 percent is almost immaterial because the industry recognises that it's part of the problem and it's got to play its part in delivering solutions," said ICS secretary Simon Bennett.

"We (shipping) are responsible for running the world economy, so it's no surprise that we do produce significant emissions and it's been down to the scientists to come up with estimates of what the percentage might be," he said.

The new study by a group of industry experts was finalised by the IMO in late December but only distributed widely to officials party to IMO regulations, who met to draft new ship pollution regulations last week.

Shipping and aviation emissions are rising rapidly but are not accounted for in the international Kyoto Protocol on global warming, because of the complexity of attributing these emissions to individual states.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year said aviation CO2 emissions in 2002 were 492 million tonnes, far less than the IMO estimate, even though the airline industry has come under much more scrutiny.

The European Commission, which has chastised the industry for "lagging behind" other sectors, recently scrapped plans to include shipping emissions in its trading scheme but will include aviation. (Editing by Anthony Barker) ________________________________________________________________________

Guardian, UK: No more plain sailing

The revelation that shipping creates more emissions and worse pollution than hitherto realised only makes the case for action more compelling
Caroline Lucas

February 13, 2008 7:30 PM | Printable version

The attention that will undoubtedly now be directed at the shipping industry as a result of the leaked UN study into its greenhouse gas emissions is long overdue. As John Vidal reports, the carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are calculated to make up almost 4.5% of today's global total, a share likely to rise to nearly 6% by 2020. These are already noteworthy figures, but the sector's contribution to global warming appears even greater if you take into account that it has been around since the 19th century: given the long lifetime of CO2, we are still "feeling" the effect of those emissions today.

It is important to be aware, however, that the science surrounding shipping emissions is complicated, and is quite a "young" area in terms of research - which may be one of the reasons it has managed for so long to avoid the spotlight. A key complexity is that the global warming effect (or "radiative forcing") of shipping emissions is currently tempered by the so-called ship tracks they produce: persistent low-level clouds initiated by the exhaust emissions of ships. These are clearly visible from satellites, and have a cooling effect (unlike aircraft contrails) which may, at present, mask the warming impact of the CO2 emissions.

But this does not mean ships are benign - far from it. First, it is simplistic to suppose that the warming and cooling impacts of the two different effects nicely cancel each other out. And second, as pressure mounts to control the sulphur content of shipping fuel, because of its effects on local air quality around ports, as well as longer-range problems like acid rain, the cooling effect will be lost - leaving us with a particularly long-lasting warming effect from CO2. Measures to reduce the sulphur content of marine fuels are something I called for in a report for the European Parliament back in 2003, and from 2010 it will be obligatory for ships in EU waters to use low-sulphur fuel. Furthermore, the International Maritime Organisation last week finalised proposals for reducing air pollution from ships (tighter NOx standards for new ship engines, plus measures to reduce emissions of sulphur oxide and particulate matter), which will go to the Organisation's Marine Environment Protection Committee for approval this October.

So, what can we do to address shipping emissions? In many ways, the sector occupies a similarly cushy legislative niche to aviation, in the sense of being excluded from the Kyoto commitments, outside the UK Climate Change bill, exempt from much of the taxation that applies to other transport sectors - including of its bunker fuel - and not currently covered by the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Like aviation, responsibility for the emissions of which had been entrusted to the International Civil Aviation Organisation - with absolutely no action resulting - shipping's contribution to global warming had been deemed to be best dealt with by the International Maritime Organisation. In the 10 years since this decision was made, however, no concrete measures have been forthcoming, and it is therefore now high time for the EU to take urgent steps of its own - again, something I called for in my 2003 report.

In light of this long wait, it is hardly encouraging that in the area of climate legislation where activity is most lively, namely emissions trading - even if other measures would in fact be more suitable - the proposals from the European Commission for the period from 2013 still fail to bring in shipping. Fortunately, environmental legislation is an area where the European Parliament has co-legislative powers, and I intend to do all I can to ensure we use them effectively. Clearly, discussions on the ETS will provide the first potential opportunity for action, but we must be aware that bringing shipping into the scheme is far from being the only way to ensure tighter regulation of its emissions, and - as with aviation - we must ensure it is done very carefully.

Apart from anything else, seeing the nominally impressive figures cited by Intertanko on the increased efficiency of today's tankers - but then noting the nevertheless alarming projected increase in overall emissions from shipping over the coming years - shows that technological improvements alone will be no help at all unless we also look at the volume of ship movements, and increasing demand for freight transport. From a technical point of view, this means it is crucial that there be limits on the number of emission rights the shipping sector is permitted to buy from other industries - to prevent it simply carrying on with business as usual, on the back of progress made in other sectors.

And, more generally, it does also ultimately mean looking at the amount and the manner in which we consume. Is it really the best use of fuel and emissions to ferry 13,000 containers of toys, food, clothes and televisions from China to Europe each month on the Emma Maersk and others like her, for example? These are issues to be explored in a hearing I will host for MEPs next month, and I look forward to seeing the same level of debate develop over shipping as we have at long last reached on aviation - hopefully, to be followed up rapidly with rather more effective action than has been generated there. ________________________________________________________________________

Reuters: Nobel winner urges oil execs to help cut emissions

Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:37am EST

By Bernie Woodall

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Rajendra Pachauri said he thought he was "walking into the lion's den" on Tuesday when he told oil executives they need to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in order to save the earth.

Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, said the oil industry has been both lion and lamb when it comes to seeing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming.

"It's a very mixed response," Pachauri said on the sidelines of the CERA Week Energy Conference held at the heart of the U.S. oil industry in Houston.

"I was very struck by (ConocoPhillips Chief Executive) Jim Mulva's presentation when he talked about the pressure that the public is going to put on legislators and on companies," Pachauri said. "And those who do not accept that reality will face a huge reputational risk."

Mulva on Tuesday told the conference that the U.S. government should enact climate change policies that would tie into programs abroad. Mulva also said the petroleum industry must cut greenhouse gas emissions and that those in it "no longer have the luxury of standing on the sideline."

Pachauri noted Europe's BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have long said emissions must be cut.

"They have been several years ahead of what you see over here," Pachauri said. "There are others who are still apparently not convinced that something needs to be done. So it's a mixed picture."

Pachauri, 67, said he will make a decision in "two or three weeks" whether he will run for another term as IPCC chairman. He joked that the IPCC could be dissolved since "captains of industry" are having the same discussions on climate change.

The IPCC issued its fourth assessment of climate change three months ago, saying greenhouse gas emissions -- mainly carbon dioxide -- must begin to fall by 2015 to avoid dire consequences from seas rising to droughts and agriculture production declines.

Pachauri said fossil fuel combustion accounts for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without policy changes by industry and governments, that figure will rise by about 50 percent by 2020. He said burning coal will account for the biggest share of that global emissions increase.

Business interests including major U.S. oil companies will cut emissions, he said, adding that he hopes they see the financial rationale now to help global emissions start to drop in 2015.

A major reason for this hope is that a price for carbon will soon be set by carbon trading or caps, setting a clear market signal, Pachauri said.

"The world will be moving to a low-carbon future, therefore companies that take the lead will meet with success in both business and in the eyes of society," Pachauri said.

"Those who don't will be left behind. I think that's becoming more and more apparent. Business in the future will be dominated by concerns related to production of greenhouse gas emissions."

(Editing by Braden Reddall) ________________________________________________________________________

Xinhua: Developed countries urged to lead emissions cuts

Updated: 2008-02-14 14:26

UNITED NATIONS -- Delegates at a UN high-level debate on climate change Wednesday urged developed countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the major contributor to global warming.

The thematic debate, which started Monday and was originally planned for two days, dragged on into a third day because of the vast number of intended speakers from more than 100 countries and international organizations.

Addressing the event, Iran's UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said that developed countries are historically responsible for the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

"Therefore, the developed countries must take the lead and make significant contributions in achieving the present and future global policies on mitigation and adaptation," said Khazaee, adding that it was important to adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Khazaee's view was shared by his Singaporean counterpart, Vanu Gopala Menon, who said "the reality is that developed countries are responsible for the bulk of current and historical greenhouse gas emissions."

"So clearly, they have an obligation to take the lead in reducing emissions," Menon said. "They also have to help developing countries address the problem through technology transfer or financial incentives."

Nirupam Sen, India's UN ambassador, urged the United Nations to focus on how developed countries could sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, rather than identifying mitigation strategies for developing countries.

Sen reaffirmed the Indian government's commitment to keeping greenhouse gas emissions at a per capita level below that of developed countries and to continue, overall, on the path of environmentally sound sustainable development.

In his closing remarks, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim urged rich nations to "demonstrate their willingness" to provide fresh financing to developing nations.

Kerim also called for enhancing the "critical role of international financial institutions and private sector" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is the key," Kerim said. "Because the importance of accelerating technology transfers to developing countries and securing sufficient financing for adaptation and mitigation cannot be underestimated.

"In this regard, the General Assembly has sent a clear signal to the World Bank and the donor community to scale up investment in developing countries to support national and international efforts to address climate change," he added.

The high-level session, titled "Addressing climate change, the United Nations and the world at work," was meant to build on the momentum generated by the international climate conference in December on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where delegates from nearly 190 nations agreed to adopt a blueprint to control global warming gases before the end of next year.

Reuters: Brazilian police crack down on illegal Amazon logging

Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:01pm EST
By Raymond Colitt
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police seized the equivalent of 500 trucks of timber from illegal sawmills in a huge raid in the Amazon on Wednesday, one of the biggest operations yet in the battle against deforestation, a government official said.
The raid followed official figures released in January that showed an increase in deforestation rates since last August after a three-year decline.
The setback has caused a rift in the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Environmentalists blame cattle ranchers and farmers for pushing deeper into the rain forest in search of cheap land after it has been cleared by loggers.
But the agriculture ministry has rejected such claims, saying there was no evidence linking recent deforestation to agriculture.
About 140 officers raided eight sawmills in the town of Tailandia, some 175 miles southeast of Para state capital Belem on Wednesday. They confiscated 10,000 cubic meters of tropical timber chopped down illegally, a spokeswoman for the state environment office said.
"It's one of the biggest operations ever against sawmills," spokeswoman Ivanette Motta said.
Tailandia, with 140 sawmills, is at the heart of an intense dispute in the Amazon for land and natural resources which is often settled by hired gunmen.
It is one of Brazil's most violent municipalities, according to official statistics on per capita homicides.
Police also shut down 43 furnaces to make charcoal from wood and detained several people for questioning.
(Reporting by Raymond Colitt; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Vicki Allen)

United Press International: Skin disease linked with deforestation

Published: Feb. 13, 2008 at 1:29 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have determined deforestation and social marginalization increase the risk of acquiring an infectious, tropical skin disease.

The University of Michigan researchers examined the incidence of the disease American cutaneous leishmaniasis, or ACL, in Costa Rica.

ACL -- characterized by skin lesions caused by an infectious organism carried by sand flies -- most commonly affects workers in forested lowlands, but tourists are increasingly at risk as remote tropical areas become more accessible.

A team led by Professor Luis Fernando Chaves examined Costa Rica's ACL case data from 1996 through 2000.

"Contrary to what was previously believed, the more forest you have, even in a marginal population, the more protected you are against the disease," said Chaves. "When we looked just at factors such as climate and the physical environment, we found no specific patterns with respect to the disease. But when we looked at the social data, we found clear patterns according to marginality."

The scientists found socially marginalized people -- those with lower incomes, literacy and levels of education -- had a higher incidence of the disease.

The study appears in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Reuters: Second deadline to protect polar bears missed
Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:15pm EST
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has missed its own postponed deadline to decide if polar bears need protection from climate change, and critics link the delay to an oil lease sale in a vast swath of the bear's icy habitat.
"When it comes to the survival of the polar bear, the Bush administration is putting the 'dead' back into 'deadline,"' said Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who heads a House of Representatives panel on climate change.
"Now that the Bush administration has taken care of its clear first priority -- taking care of their friends in the oil industry -- perhaps they can finally give the polar bear, and the global warming that is causing the bear's demise, the attention it is due," Markey said in a statement.
Polar bears use sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, their main prey, and without enough ice, they are forced onto land, where they are inefficient hunters. Warmer arctic waters mean longer distances between chunks of sea ice, and video of drowning polar bears has fueled debate over their future.
The U.S. Geological Survey, in a study conducted to aid the government's decision, reported last year that all polar bears in Alaska -- about 16,000 currently -- could disappear if warming trends continue.
The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service was required by statute to decide by January 9 whether the polar bear should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but three days before that, the agency's chief told reporters the deadline would be pushed back 30 days. The second deadline passed on February 8 with no decision.
On February 6, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service sold oil and gas rights across some 29.7 million acres
in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaskan coast for a record $2.66 billion -- about four times what the government expected to get.
Protesters, including one in a polar bear suit, demonstrated outside the auction in Anchorage.
Chris Tollefson, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the timing of the two events was "entirely coincidental."
"These two things have moved on somewhat parallel tracks, but really the driver in all of this has been the complexity of the issues and the science," Tollefson said on Wednesday by telephone.
He said a decision was expected "sooner rather than later" but declined to be more specific.
Environmental groups have notified the U.S. government they plan to sue if no decision is reached by 60 days after the original January deadline.
"If the Fish and Wildlife Service had protected polar bears before the lease sales were finalized, there would have been additional legal safeguards to the polar bears," said Andrew Wetzler, an attorney and endangered species specialist at Natural Resources Defense Council, a potential plaintiff.
"The illegal failure to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act gave the Minerals Management Service a pass," Wetzler said in a telephone interview.
He dismissed claims that another law, the Marine Mammals Protection Act, offers comparable safeguards. This other law does not require the same kind of consultation that the Endangered Species Act does, lacks protections for critical habitat and does not include plans for recovery, Wetzler said.
However, he doubted the Bush administration was trying to "run out the clock" so the polar bear problem lands on the next president's desk.
"The Bush administration actually did the right thing: they formally proposed listing the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act," Wetzler said. "There's no reason for them not to finalize that decision now."
(Editing by Sandra Maler)
Reuters: Las Vegas water source could run dry by 2021

Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:40pm GMT

By Adam Tanner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chances are about even that Lake Mead, the prime source of water for the desert city of Las Vegas, will run dry in 13 years if usage is not cut back, according to study released on Tuesday.

The finding is the latest warning about water woes threatening the future of the fast-growing U.S. casino capital and comes amid a sustained drought in the American West.

The study by two researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego calculates a 10 percent chance that Lake Mead will run dry in six years and a 50 percent probability it will be gone by 2021 absent other changes.

"Our reaction was frankly one of being stunned," study co-author Tim Barnett, a marine research physicist, said in an interview. "We had not expected the problem to be so severe and so up close to us in time."

Climate change -- both man-made and natural variation -- strong human demand and evaporation are all factors affecting water in the lake. "The biggest change right now is taking more water from the bucket than we are putting into it," Barnett said.

The uncertainty about when and if the lake will run dry stems from the natural fluctuations of the Colorado River, which feeds the lake, the researcher said. In recent months the flow has been above average, he said, after years below average.

The West has suffered years of drought with the Colorado supplying less water to Lake Mead, which serves Nevada, California, Arizona and northern Mexico.

The lake created by Hoover Dam provides 90 percent of Las Vegas' water and is less than half full, giving the edge of the lake a bath tub ring visible even far away by air.

Scott Huntley, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said his agency overseeing the Las Vegas area's water was also concerned about reliance on Lake Mead as the major source for Las Vegas and officials were seeking alternate sources.

"While we wholeheartedly support the authors' call for greater urban water conservation, it is important to also remember that agriculture uses four-fifths of the Colorado River's flows, so meaningful solutions cannot be borne solely by urban users," he said.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
BBC: Bolivia floods misery continues

The Bolivian authorities estimate that some 60,000 families across the country have been affected by severe flooding, which has followed weeks of heavy rain.

The flood waters, which have killed at least 60 people, are threatening to inundate the Amazon city of Trinidad, sparking large-scale evacuations.

The government has declared a state of emergency in the worst-hit areas.

The rains, which have swept away crops and communication lines, are blamed on the La Nina weather phenomenon.

La Nina is a periodic cooling of the waters in the Pacific Ocean, which results in severe weather conditions.

However, it is the second year in a row that Bolivia has seen such floods and officials are saying that climate change is also to blame.

Since November, several parts of Bolivia have suffered floods.

Food and tents

The United Nations says the flooding is expected to get worse as more rain is forecast.

Rivers have broken their banks and floodwaters are threatening to breach a raised road surrounding the provincial capital of Trinidad, home to some 90,000 people.

The government has been distributing food and tents in Trinidad, while rescue teams backed by helicopters from Brazil have been stepping up operations, a presidential spokesman said.

President Evo Morales has toured the worst-hit province, Beni, where thousands of people have had to leave their homes.

Mr Morales' declaration of a state of emergency authorises the government to release funds to help tackle the crisis.

The president had been under pressure to act from opposition governors in the eastern states, who had accused him of reacting too slowly.

Are you in Bolivia? Have you been affected by the flooding? Please send your comments and pictures by using the form below:

Send your pictures to , text them to +44 7725 100 100 or you have a large file you can upload here .
Guardian: UK carves out its place in space, but hopes for Britons on moon dashed
* Ian Sample, science correspondent
* Thursday February 14 2008

The threat of climate change to planet Earth is to become the cornerstone of Britain's role in the heavens, following an extensive review of space policy. British experts will develop satellites and other sophisticated technology capable of gazing back at Earth and taking the pulse of the planet from orbit, by monitoring melting ice sheets, dying rainforests and violent storms, under plans to be published by the government today.

The satellites will help create an early warning system for natural disasters, including hurricanes and tsunamis, and help to police international carbon-cutting agreements, such as pledges to avoid deforestation in some of the world's environmental hotspots.

The move is at the heart of the government's space strategy, drawn up by the British National Space Centre, which aims to double the number of British companies involved in the space business by 2012.

Under the plans Britain will become home to a major new European Space Agency facility based at Harwell in Oxfordshire. It will be dedicated to understanding climate change from space and developing robotics for space exploration. Britain is the only major contributor to the ESA that does not yet have its own facility.

According to BNSC officials, Earth observation from space is prioritised to help Britain become a hub for expertise in environmental science and disaster relief. During the 1990s natural disasters killed half a million people and caused £380bn of damage. Some 80% of those disasters were weather related, the report states.

It says: "Global satellite-based monitoring systems underpin our understanding of the health of the planet, alert us to dangers and speed up our responses. Satellites have a significant role in accurately assessing changes in sea [level] and temperature, the melting ice caps, and the effects of solar activity on the Earth and its environment."

However, many space enthusiasts will be disappointed to learn that the plan has little to say about long-held aspirations for a British astronaut, though officials are to launch a review of the costs and possible benefits of human spaceflight.

In the 1960s ministers opted out of all crewed space missions, a stance governments have maintained since, but last year several key groups of experts, including the Commons science committee and a panel commissioned by the BNSC, warned that Britain risked being left behind if it did not end its long-standing opposition.

The failure to back a British astronaut dismayed some experts who believe Britain has missed any chance of being involved in European and Nasa plans to send humans back to the moon.

"There's no commitment at all from this strategy. We're the only developed nation that doesn't have an astronaut, despite the fact that we're the fifth largest economy," said Nick Spall of the British Interplanetary Society, who has been leading a campaign for a British astronaut.

"The government has missed a huge trick in terms of being able to offer inspiration to young people. In particular the chances of the UK contributing to a return to the moon, from a human spaceflight point of view, are very limited now. If we don't have an astronaut with spaceflight experience we won't get a look in on either of those missions."

Other space scientists were more optimistic that the government might finally support a British astronaut once it had costed a mission.

"It feels as if it's going in the right direction. There's a realisation in the community that the next stage towards human spaceflight is to try and cost it out, so hopefully the review will achieve that," said Ian Crawford, a space scientist at Birkbeck College, London. Crawford was on the BNSC panel that last year recommended a four-strong British astronaut corps be recruited from 2010 and fly two missions to the international space station to gain experience in space.

A national programme to develop specialised space technology will be set up as part of the new strategy, using grants, prizes and competitions to attract engineering companies. The fruits of the programme are expected to be miniature satellites that can fly in formation, advanced surveillance and imaging systems and new means of propelling satellites in space.

The surveillance technology will be used to scan space for dangerous asteroids and debris from defunct spacecraft, but also to help forecast space weather, such as sudden bursts of radiation from the sun which can wipe out satellites, and could be fatal for astronauts on the moon.

The strategy promises to introduce regulations specifically to attract commercial space tourism, in view of commercial flights becoming a substantial market in the future.

In the short term Britain will focus on its major role in the ESA's Aurora programme, which aims to launch a robotic rover, Exomars, to the red planet in 2013. The mission will pave the way for a future attempt to bring samples back from Mars in 2020, and a long-term goal of landing astronauts on the planet.

Britain is the biggest funder of the Aurora mission, but has withdrawn from any aspect of it that involves human space flight. The government has also refused to participate in the international space station. Around 65% of Britain's £207m space budget is channelled through the ESA.

Separately, Britain will also be looking to conduct space missions outside of the ESA by linking forces with Russia and emerging space-faring nations such as China, Brazil and India.

In Britain the space industry makes £7bn a year for the economy and supports 70,000 jobs. By 2020 the global market for space technology is set to increase tenfold from £62.5bn to £543bn.
________________________________________________________________________ La FSA organiza una Jornada sobre el cambio climático en Las Vegas
La Federación Socialista Asturiana (FSA) y el PSOE de Corvera convocan para mañana, viernes, una Jornada sobre el cambio climático que se celebrará en el centro Tomás y Valiente de Las Vegas, a partir de las cuatro de la tarde.
La primera ponencia correrá a cargo del climatólogo Luis Balairón Ruiz, bajo el título «El trabajo del Panel Intergubernamental para el Cambio Climático (IPCC) y la importancia de sus informes». Una hora más tarde, se tiene previsto desarrollar la conferencia «La respuesta socialista al cambio climático. Propuestas para la reflexión y para la acción política», a cargo de Juan Espadas, viceconsejero de Medio Ambiente de Andalucía.
Y a las seis y media, y como colofón, se desarrollará una mesa redonda en la que participarán ambos ponentes y se expondrán las conclusiones de la jornada. ________________________________________________________________________

Univision: Inversores multimillonarios analizan cambio climático

13 de Febrero de 2008, 10:45pm ET

NACIONES UNIDAS (AP) - Centenares de inversionistas que controlan capitales por 20 billones de dólares se disponen a reunirse el jueves por primera vez para abordar los riesgos y las oportunidades que tiene para las finanzas la contención de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono que según científicos son causa del calentamiento global.

El encuentro de 480 inversores y otras personalidades de Wall Street fue organizado por grupos que apoyan las acciones de las Naciones Unidas, como la Fundación de las Naciones Unidas, la alianza Ceres y el Fondo Fiduciario de las Naciones Unidas para la Colaboración Internacional.

Mindy Lubber, presidenta de la coalición de inversores y ambientalistas Ceres, señaló que es la reunión más grande de líderes de las finanzas que jamás se haya congregado para concentrarse en el cambio climático. El encuentro, aseguró, ilustrará la forma en que el mercado comienza a transformarse.

"Los inversores estarán examinando las oportunidades de la energía limpia, incluida la eficiencia energética, al tiempo que Wall Street visualiza la magnitud del desafío climático y las acciones que se necesiten", dijo la responsable de Ceres, la coalición más amplia de inversionistas, ambientalistas y organizaciones de interés público en América del Norte.

El presidente de la Fundación de las Naciones Unidas, Timothy Wirth, estimó que los próximos 50 años representan una oportunidad única de adoptar las fuentes de energía que emitan menos dióxido de carbono y otros gases que contribuyen al calentamiento global. ________________________________________________________________________

El Financiero: Migración, empleo y cambio climático, prioridades de UE
Internacional - Miércoles 13 de febrero (15:05 hrs.)

* Los tres temas serán abordados por la CE en 2009
* Promete el órgano ejecutivo presentar nuevas iniciativas para simplificar la vida de los ciudadanos y mejorar su seguridad

El Financiero en línea

Bruselas, 13 de febrero.– La búsqueda de una política migratoria común, la creación de empleos y el combate contra el cambio climático serán las prioridades de la estrategia política de la Comisión Europea en 2009, informaron hoy fuentes comunitarias.

"Reforma económica, más trabajo (.) el cambio climático y la inseguridad energética, migración y más seguridad para nuestros ciudadanos son el centro de nuestras prioridades para 2009", dijo en un comunicado el presidente de la CE, José Manuel Durao Barroso.

Segú el documento, la CE considera que una política migratoria común permitirá "superar los desafíos y aprovechar las oportunidades ofrecidas por la migración en una era de globalización".

Asimismo, el órgano ejecutivo de la Unión Europea (UE) prometió presentar nuevas iniciativas para "simplificar la vida de los ciudadanos y mejorar su seguridad".

Mencionó que otra prioridad del Ejecutivo europeo será intensificar el trabajo hacia el "establecimiento de lazos políticos y económicos más fuertes" con socios de todo el mundo, especialmente con países africanos, con los que la CE espera firmar nuevos acuerdos.

Según el comunicado, la entidad comunitaria dará continuidad a la revisión del sistema de mercado único europeo, de su presupuesto y de su agenda social, con el objetivo de fomentar la creación de nuevos puestos de trabajo.

Además, la CE planea realizar nuevos esfuerzos para reducir el nivel de emisiones contaminantes en sus países miembros y, al mismo tiempo, disminuir la dependencia externa de la Unión Europea (UE) en cuestión de fuentes energéticas.

Con vistas a la eventual entrada en vigor del Tratado de Lisboa -que sustituyó a la Constitución europea- y la designación de los nuevos miembros del Parlamento y de la CE, Durao Barroso anticipó que "2009 será un año importante para la Unión Europea", con nuevas posibilidades y beneficios para sus ciudadanos. (Con información de Notimex/MVC) ________________________________________________________________________

LE Monde: La forêt française se métamorphose sous l'effet du changement climatique

LE MONDE | 13.02.08 | 15h32 • Mis à jour le 13.02.08 | 15h32

Gilles Cardot ne regardera plus jamais pousser ses arbres comme avant. Avant, c'était quand ce forestier, responsable de 25 000 hectares dans l'ouest de la France, croyait avoir l'éternité devant lui. Tout a changé en 2003.

"Au lendemain de la canicule, nous avons décidé que, malgré toutes les incertitudes, il était plus raisonnable de croire au changement climatique et de commencer à agir", explique son directeur, Laurent Piermont. Les deux hommes travaillent pour la Société forestière, qui gère en France 250 000 hectares de forêts privées pour le compte de grandes institutions bancaires ou de sociétés d'assurances. Par ce matin gelé de janvier, ils ont chaussé leurs bottes pour passer en revue la forêt de Caillebert, dans la Sarthe.

Cette forêt de 250 hectares est devenue un laboratoire de l'adaptation aux effets du réchauffement. A cause de la pauvreté de ses sols sableux, des essences réputées résistantes y ont été introduites depuis longtemps. Le plan de gestion, qui constitue la mémoire du travail accompli, en témoigne. Celui de Caillebert offre une rare diversité entre les futaies de chênes, de châtaigniers, de pins, de peupliers...

"Ici, nous ne replanterons pas de pins maritimes, nous allons faire un essai avec un robinier sélectionné en Hongrie pour sa résistance à la sécheresse", explique M. Cardot devant une friche fraîchement coupée de 7 hectares. Le choix de ce cultivar hongrois ne tient pas au hasard : la plaine du Danube connaît aujourd'hui les étés caniculaires que la France pourrait subir dans quelques décennies. L'évolution des forêts australiennes, soumises depuis plusieurs années à des épisodes de sécheresse exceptionnelle, est également observée avec attention.

Le changement climatique agit de façon paradoxale sur les arbres. D'un côté, la teneur plus élevée de CO2 dans l'atmosphère stimule leur croissance, de l'autre, le manque d'eau lié aux fortes chaleurs estivales met en péril leur survie. Pour anticiper les effets du réchauffement, les forestiers s'appuient sur les scénarios du Groupe intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC), complétés par les travaux menés plus localement par Météo France ou l'Institut national de recherche agronomique (Inra). Selon leurs prévisions, l'avenir des arbres français se jouera après 2050, quand la fréquence des canicules augmentera.

"Plus que la multiplication des tempêtes ou l'apparition de gelées précoces, la répétition des canicules représente la vraie menace pour la forêt", souligne M. Piermont. Pour anticiper ce bouleversement, la Société forestière a divisé ses arbres en deux catégories. D'un côté, ceux dont l'espérance de vie ne va pas plus loin que le milieu du siècle. Pour eux, l'intervention se limite à alléger la densité des plantations, pour s'adapter aux moindres réserves des sols en eau, et à programmer des coupes plus précoces. Les pins laricio, par exemple, ne seront plus récoltés à soixante-dix ans mais à cinquante.

De l'autre, tous les arbres qui devront encaisser de plein fouet les coups de chaud estivaux annoncés après 2050. "Là, nous entrons dans une zone d'incertitudes", reconnaît le directeur de la Société forestière. Certaines essences sont d'ores et déjà placées sur la liste des espèces menacées, comme l'épicéa commun, le sapin de Vancouver, le hêtre ou le chêne pédonculé.

"Nos chênes végètent", confirme Gilles Cardot en montrant des spécimens aux troncs anormalement étroits pour leur âge. Certains n'ont pas résisté aux sécheresses de la fin des années 1980 puis de 2003 et offrent le spectacle de longs fûts décharnés. Ils seront peu à peu remplacés par des châtaigniers ou des robiniers, deux essences que la Société forestière a retenues dans sa liste des variétés de transition, capables de survivre dans les conditions climatiques prévues après 2050.

Ces espèces, parmi lesquelles se trouvent aussi le tilleul, le cèdre, le pin laricio ou le chêne sessile, seront progressivement confortées ou introduites à Caillebert et ailleurs en France.

La diversification des essences offre pour l'instant la seule parade au changement climatique. Mais les forestiers avancent sur ce terrain avec modestie, car ils ne sont certains que d'une chose : "La nature ne répond jamais comme les hommes pourraient s'y attendre."
Laurence Caramel

ROWA Media Update
14 February 2008

500 to take part in mini-marathon
A CHARITY mini-marathon is set to kick-off tomorrow from the Jawad Dome, Barbar. More than 500 people are expected to participate in the Sixth Annual Charity Run Mini-Marathon.
It is being organised by the Jawad Dome (Jawad Business Group), under the patronage of Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife head and Southern Governor Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
"The main objective of the event is to increase awareness among all age groups as well as all organisations on the importance of being fit, while having fun and building friendships," said Jawad Dome director Jawad Mahmood Jawad.
There are two race distances - 5km for children aged nine and above; and 8km for 16-year-olds and above.
Trophies and gifts will be presented to the winners and a raffle draw will take place on the day of the event.
A mobile clinic will be placed at the Jawad Dome for free health checkups.
Registration is open at the Jawad Dome and The Centre in Sitra. Entry is BD2 for adults and BD1 for children under 16.
Proceeds will go to supporting charities, which will be announced soon.
For further details, contact event director Adnan Al Qassab on 39685547 or e-mail

Conference to address coastal development challenges

Dubai: Tapping the recreational potential of beaches and ports has lead to massive developments along the coast of the Gulf region at an estimated cost of $100 billion [about Dh367 billion].
While massive development projects are taking place along the coast of Dubai, a conference will take place later this month on the best practices in coastal development and engineering.
According to Dubai Municipality, the organisers of the summit on coastal and port engineering in developing countries, will address challenges to the Arabian Gulf's coastal zones due to major waterfront developments, water transport, and the environmental impact of port projects.
The conference is being organised in collaboration with the Brussels based International Navigation Association (PIAC).

Recent studies have shown that Dubai's coastline has grown from its natural 73 kilometres to 1,500 kilometres due to new waterfront projects.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, acting director general of Dubai Municipality said the summit would provide the opportunity for coastal and port engineers from developing countries to exchange know-how.
Dubai Municipality has offered 100 free fellowships to individuals from developing countries.
Marine environment
Fourteen papers from the UAE will be discussed and cover marine environment, coastal modelling in Dubai, 'live' management of the dynamic coastal zone, port expansion and dredging, and establishment of a statutory framework and institutional capacity for the coastal zone.
Mohammad Obaid Al Mulla, chief executive of the marine agency at the Roads and Transport Authority said a series of major projects in the field of water transport have been developed inside the country, as well as developing various means of marine transport in the region.
The RTA will also present two papers, one of which will review marine environmental issues and their mitigation along Dubai Creek as well as challenges of implementing water transport.
The summit will take place on February 24 to February 28 at the Hotel Intercontinental in Dubai Festival City.

Store chain puts price on plastic bags and cuts use

Dubai: The number of plastic bags used by shoppers has dropped by half in the first week since Geant hypermarket at Ibn Battuta introduced a 25 fils fee for them.
Shoppers are now bringing their own bags, or opting for fewer bags as they now have to pay for them, said Jean Marc Lebrun, chief operating officer at Geant.
The hypermarket has also introduced a Dh5 reusable jute bag.
Check-outs are now bare of stacks of plastic bags and packers have been trained not to automatically put all shopping items in to a plastic bag unless customers request them. "Our objective is not to sell plastic bags, the point is to get people to use less plastic," said Lebrun.

"Impulsive buying could drop slightly because people will think they didn't bring a bag and won't want to always buy one - but at least they will remember it next time and start bringing bags from home," he said.
Geant introduced the charge on plastic bags on February 4 to coincide with the UAE Environment Day.
Overall the campaign has been well received by customers and they have adopted the new way of shopping, said Lebrun.
"We still get some people who complain because they only have a few items and need a bag and don't see why they have to pay for one, but we're seeing half the amount of plastic bags being used so far," he said.
"On average before each customer would take two or three bags with them. This has really gone down. We want to make people understand that each time they take a plastic bag they are polluting the environment," said Lebrun.
Yesterday shoppers had mixed reactions and said they are still adapting.
Ahmad M, a Lebanese hairdresser, said the idea is a positive one for the environment.
"I don't walk around with a bag so I have to buy one though," he said.
Nosheen, an Indian housewife, said if they are going to charge for plastic bags they should be better quality bags.

Picking up somebody else's rubbish for environment's sake
Abu Dhabi: Black rubbish bags were filled in no time last weekend by members of Abu Dhabi 4x4 Club, who took turn in the desert specifically to pick up the mess frequently left out by campers and quad bikers.

Near Al Khatam in Abu Dhabi, silver foil wrappers and plastic bottles pepper the horizon. Already degraded by the sun, plastic bags, feed bags and coal bags, rusty tins and plastic containers break and shatter into fragments when picked up, leaving their trace in the sand.

Khalid Al Magboul, an Emirati club member marshal and instigator of the environment-focused tryst in the dunes, said he organised the trip after reading a recent Gulf News report on the accidental deaths of camels from eating plastic bags. The plastic forms calcified rocks weighing dozens of kilogrammes, which starves to death four-legged desert wanderers like camels, donkeys or gazelles.

Snapping on blue latex gloves, the volunteer off-roaders look around them at the trash. They do not have to look far, and the group quickly separates to start filling bags.

"I didn’t expect there to be so much trash in such a small area. It’s everywhere," said Al Magboul, pausing to listen in to the walkie-talkie in his pocket used by all the off-roaders to communicate. He hears another group has made a find - a different kind of treasure however. He jumps in his car to take the trailer to them and load the abandoned water tanker, probably from a nearby farm.

"This area is so popular for families to come camping and have picnics but there is water bottles and plastic bags everywhere. Municipality seems to be making an effort by at least providing skips and dumpsters but people don’t make the effort to throw their trash there instead," he said.

The Abu Dhabi 4x4 Club travels into the desert at least twice a week and has been witnessing the increase in waste forming small piles all over the place. "We've seen a camel trying to eat plastic today, before our eyes," he said.

In hours, the cars pulling trailers have made too many trips to count to dump their load of bulging black bags into a municipality skip. A waste management truck even came and emptied the skip once before the group quickly filled it again.

"There is a huge lack of education and awareness. If one person thinks leaving a plastic bag won’t do much damage, then 1,000 people think this is creating a lot of problem. I’m really shocked by what we found today," he said.

"I really think there needs to be more education in our schools, in a year the problem would not be what it is today."

Driving over a newly-cleaned up area is a moment of pride for Carolyn, an Australian driver who lived in New Zealand for over a decade. "It’s great to see this spot so clean and to think that we did this."

"At the end of the day, we have to realise that we have cleaned up a very small area of what is out there, I just hope that we have helped in some way," said Al Magboul.

A brief history

The Abu Dhabi 4x4 Club was founded in May 2006. The main purpose of the Club is to have an off-road club based in Abu Dhabi that gathers all the Abu Dhabi based off-roaders in a family-oriented association, meet new people and share the technical and driving knowledge with each other.
Club members are now in talks to organise a monthly desert clean up drive as the idea was very well received by all members and had a very good turnout. For more information on the Abu Dhabi 4x4 club
Wednesday 13 February 2008

UNEP or UN in the News

General Environmental News

Dry Lake Mead? 50-50 chance by 2021 seen
Study cites warming, water use and growing Colorado River deficit
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
What are the chances that Lake Mead, a key source of water for more than 22 million people in the Southwest, would ever go dry? A new study says it's 50 percent by 2021 if warming continues and water use is not curtailed.
"We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it was coming at us," co-author Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said in a statement. "Make no mistake, this water problem is not a scientific abstraction, but rather one that will impact each and every one of us that live in the Southwest."
"It's likely to mean real changes to how we live and do business in this region," added co-author David Pierce, a Scripps climate scientist.
The experts estimated that the Colorado River system, which feeds Lake Mead and Lake Powell, is seeing a net deficit of nearly 1 million acre-feet of water per year — an amount that can supply some 8 million people. That water is not being replenished, they noted, and human demand, evaporation and human-induced climate change are fueling the growing deficit.
The system is already at half capacity because of eight years of drought.
"When expected changes due to global warming are included as well, currently scheduled depletions are simply not sustainable," Barnett and Pierce write in the study.
The two analyzed federal records of past water demand as well as calculations of scheduled water allocations and climate conditions.
'Bucket' being depleted
"The biggest change right now is taking more water from the bucket than we are putting into it," Barnett said.
Lake Mead straddles the Arizona-Nevada border. Aqueducts carry water from the system to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and other communities.
The researchers also noted that their estimates are conservative — in other words, the water shortage is likely to be even more dire than they estimate. The conservative approach included basing their findings on:
• The premise that warming effects only started in 2007, though most experts consider human-caused warming to have likely started decades earlier.
• Averaging river flow over the past 100 years, even though it has dropped in recent decades.
The study has been accepted for publication, possibly next month, in the peer-reviewed Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Barnett and Pierce also estimated:
• A 10 percent chance that Lake Mead could be dry by 2014.
• A 50 percent chance that reservoir levels will drop too low to allow hydroelectric power generation by 2017.
The uncertainty about when and if the lake will run dry stems from the natural fluctuations of the Colorado River, which feeds the lake, Barnett said. In recent months the flow has been above average, he said, after years below average.
'At or beyond the sustainable limit'
The system could still run dry even if recently proposed mitigation measures are implemented, the researchers said.
"Today, we are at or beyond the sustainable limit of the Colorado system," the study concludes. "The alternative to reasoned solutions to this coming water crisis is a major societal and economic disruption in the desert southwest; something that will affect each of us living in the region."
Lake Mead, which was created when Hoover Dam was buit, provides 90 percent of Las Vegas' water.
Scott Huntley, a spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said his agency overseeing the Las Vegas area's water was concerned about reliance on Lake Mead as the major source for Las Vegas and officials were seeking alternate sources.
"While we wholeheartedly support the authors' call for greater urban water conservation, it is important to also remember that agriculture uses four-fifths of the Colorado River's flows, so meaningful solutions cannot be borne solely by urban users," he added.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Jewelers shun gold from proposed Alaska mine
They oppose development due to sensitive Bristol Bay salmon runs
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Five of the nation's leading jewelers have sworn off gold that could someday come from the proposed Pebble Mine, a huge deposit near the world's most productive wild sockeye salmon stream.
The jewelers, including Tiffany & Co., Ben Bridge Jeweler and Helzberg Diamonds, pledged Tuesday not to knowingly sell jewelry made from gold that might be extracted from the proposed mine near the Bristol Bay watershed in southwest Alaska.
"We are committed to sourcing our gold and other materials in ways that ensure the protection of natural resources such as the Bristol Bay watershed," the pledge says. "We would not want the jewelry we sell to our customers to jeopardize this important natural resource."
The other two companies making the pledge to support permanent protection of the watershed from large-scale mining are Fortunoff and Leber Jewelers. The five retailers together sold about $2.2 billion in jewelry in 2006.
Northern Dynasty Mines Inc., an American subsidiary of Canadian company Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., is developing the prospect in partnership with Anglo American PLC, a London-based mining company.
Northern Dynasty spokesman Sean Magee said he was surprised that none of the companies contacted Northern Dynasty before signing the pledge. He said Northern Dynasty would be contacting the retailers this week to describe Pebble Mine and the approach to the project.
"We have made a commitment to employ the very highest standards at Pebble," Magee said.
The pledge was made in conjunction with a report by the No Dirty Gold campaign led by Oxfam America and Earthworks, an advocacy group.
Pebble Mine is estimated to be the second largest ore deposit of its type in the world. Production could begin in 2015.
Scientist Says Worm Has Evolved to Eat Killer Crop
By Dan Charles
Tuesday 12 February 2008
Bollworms, such as the ones in this petri dish, damage cotton plants by eating through the cotton flower or tunneling through the cotton boll to devour the seed. AP
Bollworms seems to have evolved the ability to survive while feeding on cotton that's been genetically engineered to poison them. AP
A type of insect has developed the ability to survive while feeding on corn or cotton that's been genetically engineered to poison it, says scientist Bruce Tabashnik of the University of Arizona.
Many cotton farmers and corn growers in the United States have come to rely on Bt crops — plants that have been spliced with a special gene, extracted from an insect-killing microbe called Bacillus thuringiensis. The result is that they produce a toxin that kills certain caterpillars but does not harm other animals or people — an appealing combination of results.
Scientists who study insects, however, predicted that the crops wouldn't work for long, because insects eventually would evolve to resist the Bt toxin, just as they resist other insecticides.
Tabashnik was among the most pessimistic about the crops' long-term prospects.
"I thought we might see resistance to Bt crops in five years or less," he says.
That didn't happen. But recently, Tabashnik says, he found evidence that one type of insect is becoming resistant to the Bt toxin.
By examining a series of studies conducted by University of Arkansas researchers, Tabashnik found that cotton bollworms — a worm that feeds on cotton plants and corn before growing wings and turning into a moth — are surviving much higher doses of Bt poison now than they were several years ago. His findings, which he says are clear evidence of "evolution in action," were published in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology. This could mean that Bt will cease to be an effective form of insecticide.
Not everyone is convinced, however. In an odd twist, the scientists who collected and tested the bollworms disagree with Tabashnik's conclusions. Randall Luttrell from the University of Arkansas says the data may not present a completely accurate picture of what is happening in cotton fields. He suspects that the hardy bollworms may have been living in cotton fields all along, but he simply did not happen to find them until recently.
In any case, if more bollworms are surviving on Bt cotton, farmers haven't noticed. That may be because they are killed by additional chemical sprays and a new generation of Bt crops with a slightly different version of the gene — too new to have been overcome by evolution.
Going Out to Eat, but Staying Green
The New York Times
Wednesday February 13, 2008
AT the Oko frozen yogurt shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the counter and walls are made from sunflower seeds and its awnings have solar panels.
Maury Rubin said that when he opens his third Birdbath organic bakery this spring, in Battery Park City, the roof will be planted with herbs to help air quality and insulate the store. Like the other Birdbaths in lower Manhattan, its furnishings will be made from recycled materials and wheat board.
Gusto Grilled Organics in Greenwich Village has been certified as organic under federal regulations by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York and its construction complies with standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, a national environmental building organization.
Places like these, with a countercultural vibe, are what the phrase “green restaurant” might bring to mind.
But at the 13 New York and Chicago restaurants of Stephen Hanson’s B. R. Guest Restaurants, where you’re more likely to find patrons knocking back margaritas than sipping herbal tea, there’s a sanitation expert to help with recycling, as well as paper takeout containers, and organic eggs and other ingredients (as long as they’re not too expensive or hard to get).
At Del Posto, near the meatpacking district in Manhattan, where there are little stools for purses, biodiesel trucks fueled by its used cooking oil fetch ingredients from an upstate farm and return with the restaurant’s compost.
“There are many ways to be green,” said Joseph Bastianich, an owner.
And many places that are trying. Lately, when restaurateurs create a menu or settle on a design, they’re considering the environment along with the cuisine. Some do it to save money and others to tap into a popular trend, but many do it because they believe in it. Jason Hennings said the ingredients at Black Iron Burger, which he is to open soon in the East Village, will come from New York State, avoiding fuel-burning, cross-country deliveries. “I want this to be an ethical burger,” he said.
The seal of approval for many environmentally concerned dining places around the country comes from the nonprofit Green Restaurant Association, founded by Michael Oshman in 1990, when, he said, there was no green business movement.
Now, his organization, based in Boston, has more than 350 members, which for an annual fee of $500 to $4,000, depending on their size, get a “Green Restaurant” seal for their windows once they replace all polystyrene foam products, agree to recycle as much as possible, and begin to phase in other environmental measures, including composting, conserving water, disposing of grease responsibly and using chlorine-free paper products.
To check on compliance, the association occasionally inspects restaurants, but more often it looks at invoices to confirm that they are buying nontoxic cleaning products, energy efficient light bulbs and the like.
“We have to make these certifications credible,” Mr. Oshman said. “We’ve had issues with some clients, like one who had a contract with a recycler but the recycling company reported that the bins were always empty.”
José Duarte, the chef and owner of Taranta in Boston, said the association didn’t just approve his efforts, it also helped get things done. “When I needed new business cards I wanted them on chlorine-free paper, and the association could tell me which printers to contact,” he said. “Otherwise I would have had to call all over town myself.”
Keeping paper products nontoxic may be environmentally sound, but Mr. Oshman said that, increasingly, the industry is going green to save money.
Mr. Duarte, for instance, said that by composting he has cut down on garbage pickups, reducing his costs by about 45 percent. He said motion sensors in the bathrooms for the fans and lighting have helped cut energy costs by as much as $2,000 a year.
Mr. Oshman said his members “realize that it’s good for business and good practice.” And, he added, “It’s better to do it voluntarily, so it doesn’t get legislated.
A growing number of municipalities, including Boston, Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif., have started citywide composting programs, which New York is considering, according to David Hurd, the director of the city’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education.
New York already requires businesses to sort trash for recycling, Mr. Hurd said, but the service is not offered by all carting companies, and the law is not well-enforced. So it takes initiative to commit to recycling, as does Community Food & Juice, a small spot in Morningside Heights. And going green can add costs, at least in the beginning. Along with installing energy-saving appliances, Sharab, a lounge under construction in Gainesville, Fla., is using environmentally sound building methods that are often more expensive than conventional ones.
Christopher Fillie, the restaurant’s contractor, specializes in LEED construction (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which follows standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit group based in Washington. Mr. Fillie said green construction methods, like using recycled materials and nontoxic paints, may add 10 percent to costs. But that can be offset with savings from energy conservation, utility rebates for more efficient appliances and federal tax credits for solar panels and other equipment.
“There’s a misconception that it’s only some kind of a bleeding heart thing and will be expensive,” Mr. Fillie said. “But the reality is that the cost of doing business poorly is going up — like the cost of energy, for example.”
Some efforts are modest. Community Food & Juice uses solar-powered lamps. To use less gasoline, restaurants, like Pizza Fusion in Fort Lauderdale and Deerfield Beach, Fla., make deliveries with hybrid cars. (Birdbirth uses bicycle-powered rickshaws.) Stage Left restaurant in New Brunswick, N.J., cans its own local tomatoes, and Cava Greens in Denver, which sells tossed salad to go, discounts takeout orders that can be filled in the customer’s own containers.
Some require more ambition. The Pain Quotidien chain of bakery-restaurants, which began using organic ingredients about four years ago, now has a composting plant in Queens for its New York restaurants.
Danielle Venokur’s Manhattan firm, DVGreen, plans parties with caterers like the Cleaver Company, Fancy Girl, ’Wichcraft and FreeFoods NYC, that use organic products, recycle, compost, and take other measures. She even looks for organic flowers.
Robert L. Garafola, New York City’s deputy parks commissioner for management and budget, said his department is encouraging restaurants and snack bars in the parks to follow Green Restaurant Association standards, and will consider how well concessionaires comply when granting future contracts.
Mr. Hanson said he had B. R. Guest’s New York and Chicago restaurants certified by the Green Restaurant Association in part because his company is in a joint venture with the Starwood Capital Group, an international hotel company that already has a green agenda. But, he said, ethics played a role, too.
“It’s also about emotions,” he said. “You have no choice if you have a conscience. I’m thinking about my kids.”
Jason Birnbaum, who owns Doc Green’s Gourmet Salad & Grill, with casual salad bars in Austin, Tex., said the new unit he just completed there was built according to LEED standards and complies with many of the Green Restaurant Association’s requirements.
Whether his customers care about all this is another matter.
“Austin is a very green city, like Seattle and San Francisco,” he said. “For some people it doesn’t matter, but with others, if they like our food and know we’re green they may choose us.”
CSR Practices Can Lead to Increased Profits, Two New Reports Find
Wednesday 13 February 2008
OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 13, 2008 -- Not only are more companies taking CSR practices seriously and implementing them across operations, those companies are more likely to see their value grow, according to two reports released yesterday from IBM and and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's report, "Doing good: Business and the sustainability challenge" [PDF], surveyed 1,254 senior business executives to find out how, if at all, stock performance correlates to CSR performance.

Although the report's authors are quick to point out that the findings do not show a cause-and-effect relationship between sustainability practices and increased value, the companies surveyed that showed 50 percent or greater growth in stock price over the last three years were also more likely to devote resources to their CSR activities than companies whose stock price dropped by 10 percent or more in the same time frame.

The study found more high-growth companies ranked social and environmental goals as high priorities than did of those companies whose stocks declined in value. Among the practices cited were improving the environmental and human-rights performance of supply chains (40 percent vs. 18 percent), reducing greenhouse gases (38 percent vs. 24 percent), and developing innovative products and services that address social and environmental problems (49 percent to 35 percent).

Another study released yesterday, IBM's "Attaining Sustainable Growth Through Corporate Social Responsibility," surveyed 250 business leaders and found that 68 percent of them are currently engaged in CSR practices, and shows that they can be potentially revenue-enhancing operations. The report contains a "growth curve" that shows the progress a company makes in its CSR implementation, beginning with merely meeting legal requirements, progressing to cost savings from higher efficiency in operations, and resulting in the opening of new markets or product innovations as a result of CSR practices.

Although it is quickly dawning on IBM's respondents that CSR can be a positive force in any company, very few of those respondents are taking them fully to heart: only 16 percent said they fully "engage and collaborate with customers" about CSR activities.
B.C. Throne Speech empty on climate plan answers
Government announces environmental initiatives, but some MLAs worry about concept's undefined economic impact
The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
VICTORIA — Concerns voiced privately by members of the B.C. Liberal back bench about the Premier's climate-action plan went unanswered yesterday in the government's Throne Speech.
Several government MLAs told The Globe and Mail they have raised the alarm that Premier Gordon Campbell's ambitious global-warming agenda needs to adapt to changes in the province's economy.
"I think the message has gotten through loud and clear. I am cautiously optimistic we will take a balanced approach to this file," said Bill Bennett, a Liberal MLA who chairs the legislature's finance committee.
But if they did get their message through, they won't know for some weeks yet.
Yesterday's Throne Speech had been expected to provide more detail about B.C.'s climate action plan. The speech, which outlines the government's agenda for the coming year, stuck with Mr. Campbell's environmental theme, sketching out new programs to plant more trees and push municipal planners to go green.
But, a year after the B.C. government announced its ambitious assault on global warming, the speech offered only more delay before details of the climate action plan are rolled out.
Warning that proper planning "transcends the timelines of electoral cycles," the government promised a climate-action plan to advance the greenhouse-gas reduction targets "shortly after the budget."
Mr. Campbell said yesterday his timeline makes sense.
"I've met with a number of business leaders and they have said, not that we shouldn't do it, but that we should be careful about how we do it," he said. "That's going to take time to do."
Recently, representatives of industries have pointed out to Mr. Campbell that the economy is not as strong now as when he announced his plan a year ago.
The rising Canadian dollar and low housing costs in the United States have taken their toll on companies' financial situation.
Like Mr. Bennett, a number of Liberal MLAs have tried to bring the business community's concerns forward as well. They echoed concerns that the government has created uncertainty by announcing carbon-cutting targets before the planning has taken place.
"I ask what the cost of this is going to be," said Ralph Sultan, MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano. "I'm waiting [for an answer]."
John Rustad, MLA for Prince George-Omineca, said there has been "lively discussion" within the Liberal government caucus on the climate-change agenda, and he noted that uncertainty around the government's plans is hurting business.
"I can give you a specific example of the concern: There's a company interested in putting a limestone quarry in Prince George that has decided to put things on hold until they hear what direction our government decides to go in terms of its environmental agenda," he said.
Mr. Bennett, the MLA for East Kootenay, said the decision to set targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions before consulting with industry about how to reach those reductions is disconcerting for business.
"I acknowledge their concern, it comes from a lack of certainty about what the government is going to do. It's a year ago that we first laid out some broad themes and business doesn't know a whole lot more now about how we intend to get there," he said.
"It's important to know there are MLAs in our government who have the same concerns and are expressing those concerns within the confines of our opportunities - caucus and so forth."
It's not just business that is concerned about the direction the Liberal government is pursuing, the MLAs said.
The all-party finance committee Mr. Bennett chairs heard 5,800 public submissions last fall on climate change. In its report last November, it warned that the public is leery of any kind of carbon tax in the budget, due next Tuesday.
"The environmental community is clamouring for a carbon tax, I don't hear anyone else clamouring for one," he said in an interview.
"If I am convinced that it is the only way to accomplish the goals of our government, then I will support that policy. That argument has not been made to me."
Internet helps Americans save more energy every year
For every kilowatt-hour of power that Internet-linked computers use, they save at least 10 times that amount, a recent study finds.
By Mark Clayton |
The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday February 13, 2008
Reporter Mark Clayton discusses several ways computers have made the US more energy efficient.
The rate at which the United States is becoming more energy-efficient has soared since 1995, when the computer-based Internet and communications revolution began soaking into US society.
That conclusion – from a groundbreaking study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) last week – stands in sharp contrast to recent concerns that the computer backbone of the Internet was gobbling up huge amounts of energy.
Indeed, all America's servers – the computers that direct traffic on the Internet – and the systems that cool them use about 1.2 percent of the nation's electricity, according to a study last year. That's still a lot of power, comparable to the energy used by color TVs in the US.
But it turns out that for every kilowatt-hour of electricity used by information and communications technologies, the US saves at least 10 times that amount, the new ACEEE report found.
"Acceleration of information and computer technology across the US landscape post 1995 is driving much of the nation's energy-productivity gain," says John Laitner of the ACEEE and coauthor of the study. "Had we continued at the historic rate of prior years, we would today be using the energy equivalent of 1 billion barrels of oil more [per year] than we were" in the early 1990s.
After the oil embargoes of the 1970s, America quickly became more efficient and its "energy intensity" fell sharply. Energy intensity is the amount of energy required to produce a dollar of economic output. But its efficiency improvements slowed to less than 1 percent per year between 1986 and 1996.
Then something dramatic happened: Efficiency improvements sped up and the decline in energy intensity reached an average 2.9 percent annually between 1996 and 2001. Most of that decline came from technological innovation, according to the ACEEE study. Since 2001, the pace of US energy efficiency gains has remained remarkably high, at a robust 2.4 percent annually, at least half due to technology gains, researchers say.
Companies are making big improvements. Not long ago, delivery giant UPS introduced new software to develop more efficient routes and help drivers avoid left-hand turns. Result: 28.5 million fewer miles driven and 3 million gallons of gas saved each year.
Efficiency gains for individuals have saved a lot of energy, too, Dr. Laitner says. E-mail, instant messaging, and Internet news can help organize and streamline individual schedules. Ordering books or groceries online avoids extra trips to the mall. Transferring funds to a college student electronically – or downloading an IRS document – avoids having them mailed. Telecommuting once or twice a week to work avoids gas burned and lessens congestion on the roads.
"The most significant part of this story is that while these technologies do indeed consume some energy, the net effect is that they cause society and the economy overall to use less energy," says Richard Hirsh, a specialist in energy history at Virginia Tech who reviewed the study.
"Not long ago we had all these people running around saying the Internet was going to gobble up all this power," says researcher Jonathan Koomey at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "But their claims were vastly overestimated.
Lakes Mead and Powell could run dry by 2021
It's a 50 percent possibility, a new Scripps study finds, which would squeeze water supplies in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.
By Peter N. Spotts
The Christian Science Monitor
Wednesday February 13, 2008
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which supply water and power to millions in the American Southwest, stand a 50 percent chance of running dry by 2021 unless dramatic changes take place in how the region uses water, according to a new study.
Causes include growing population, rising demand for Colorado River water, which feeds both lakes, and global warming, according to scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., who conducted the study.
The results underscore the importance of water-conservation measures that many communities throughout the region are putting into place. Other studies, some dating back nearly 20 years, have projected that Lake Mead could fall to virtually useless levels as climate warmed, but they lacked a sense of the timing. The new results, the Scripps scientists say, represent a first attempt to answer when lakes Mead and Powell would run dry, squeezing water supplies in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.
"We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem and how fast it is coming at us," notes Tim Barnett, a research physicist at Scripps who led the effort. By "dry," the team means that water levels fall so low behind the Hoover and Glenn Canyon Dams that the water fails to reach the gravity-fed intakes that guide it through turbines or out through spillways. In addition, the report estimates that the lakes stand a 50 percent chance of falling to the lowest levels required to generate electricity by 2017.
Last week, Dr. Barnett published additional work in the journal Science attributing 60 percent of the reduction in snowpack, rising temperatures, and reduced river flows over the past 50 years to global warming.
The latest work "not only shows that climate change is a real problem. It also shows it has direct implications for humans – and not just in the third world," says Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif. The institute focuses on links between sustainable development and global security issues. "Even without climate change, we're taking too much water from the Colorado. So it's no surprise that if we continue to take too much, the reservoirs will go dry."
The message is not lost on water planners, adds Sharon Megdal, director of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson. After years when discussions of climate change and water sat on the back burner, regional water managers are "beginning to get on the same page" regarding adaptation to global warming, she says. "At least they're asking the questions that need to be asked."
To Barnett, whose results have been accepted for publication in the journal Water Resources Research, time is of the essence. It takes so long for the planning process – and what some see as the inevitable legal challenges – to play out that he dubs the water-supply issue an "immediate" problem.
Given the effects of projected population growth on water resources, it might seem that the best solution would be to post "Keep Out" signs at state borders. But Dr. Gleick points out that changes in water use could go a long way toward easing the crunch. Such changes could include boosting the price of water to more closely reflect its value, requiring xeriscaping for homes and commercial centers, and on the farm, growing less water-intensive crops and using more miserly irrigation techniques. "Grow alfalfa in Minnesota or Iowa, not here," he says. "These are all plausible; they are not difficult decisions."
Water board approves drought plan
Officials in southeastern L.A. County suggest that they might challenge the decision, saying it would penalize low-income residents.

By Deborah Schoch
The Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Metropolitan Water District board Tuesday approved a much-disputed drought plan despite protests from officials in some southeastern Los Angeles County cities who complained that low-income residents would be penalized with higher rates.

Using a weighted voting system that is keyed to property valuation and not population, the 37-member board voted 176,523 to 14,265 to support the plan.

The cities of Los Angeles and San Diego and the Municipal Water District of Orange County were among those voting for the plan after a brief discussion.

"No" votes were cast by Long Beach and the Commerce-based Central Basin Municipal Water District, which serves 2 million people in cities along the Long Beach and San Gabriel River freeway corridors. They suggested that they might challenge the vote in court.

The cities of Commerce, Huntington Park, Norwalk and South Gate and four state legislators had asked for a 60-day delay so that local officials could study the plan's effect more closely.

Southeastern Los Angeles County cities could be hit with $37.2 million in penalties within a 12-month period, Assemblyman Hector de la Torre (D-South Gate) -- chairman of the Assembly Rules Committee-- wrote in a letter Friday to MWD board Chairman Timothy Brick.

"The plan, while intending to conserve water during shortages, ultimately provides those who can afford to pay the steep penalties with as much water as they want, and places severe financial hardship on ratepayers who cannot afford the high price of water," De la Torre wrote.

South Gate Mayor W.H. DeWitt and Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester spoke to the board Monday in favor of a 60-day postponement.

Los Angeles and San Diego officials have strongly backed the plan, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa described it Monday as "the most fair and equitable option I have seen for dealing with a possible water shortage." Orange County officials supported it after requesting a softening of the penalty rate structure.

MWD General Manager Jeff Kightlinger defended the decision not to delay the vote.

"We've sat and worked with folks for eight months," he said. "The plan does not treat anyone disproportionately. . . . It's time to move on and address the more important issues."

If current water shortages worsen, the plan would determine the amount of imported water that the MWD would deliver to its 26 member cities and districts serving 18 million people in six counties.,1,2582661.story
Better biofuels before more biofuels
By Alexander E. Farrell
The San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
It's all about the land, not the crops. While California and the nation pursue biofuels for energy security and climate change, we must ensure that cleaner technologies are the result, not irreversible damages.
New research suggests that corn ethanol may have greenhouse gas emissions nearly double the emissions of gasoline. The reason is that the way we make biofuels today increases the global demand for land and accelerates the clearance of wilderness for new farms.
For example, if a farmer in the United States shifts from a corn/soybean rotation to continuous corn in order to supply a new ethanol facility, U.S. exports of soybeans go down. This causes the global price of soybeans to go up slightly, and farmers worldwide will find it profitable to clear a little more land to grow soybeans. Of course, population growth and greater meat consumption are also causing land clearance for new farmland, but increasing production of biofuels accelerates the process.
Unfortunately, farmland expansion today often means clearing rainforest: burning the trees, releasing carbon dioxide from the soil into the atmosphere, and losing biodiversity.
This not about corn or sugarcane, or even switchgrass; the key idea is that climate-friendly biofuels should not use fertile land. There are at least three ways to get away from the food-fuel-wilderness competition.
The first approach is to use make biofuels from wastes, such as garbage headed to the landfill, or agricultural residues such as rice hulls and corncobs. The second is to use land that cannot be used for food crops, which might include planting natural prairie grasses on abandoned farmland or growing algae in the desert. The third is to integrate biofuel production into agriculture without diminishing CROP yields.
All of these approaches require "second generation" biofuels, but we also need greater energy efficiency in our cars and trucks, as well as for new technologies like affordable electric vehicles.
We can see real progress toward climate friendly biofuels today. Many scientists in university and private laboratories are working on this goal, and the U.S. Department of Energy has helped to fund half a dozen advanced biofuel pilot plants that are now under construction.
Effective leadership to develop better biofuels requires further support for research and development, effective climate policies to create market demand for better biofuels, and help for developing countries to both achieve economic growth and protect their ecosystems.
The Bush administration has failed at all three tasks. Just last week it proposed to slash research on efficiency, renewable energy and climate science. It has effectively blocked meaningful climate legislation for its entire term of office. And it has offered only hollow promises to the rest of the world.
The new research also raises an immediate problem for California: What to do about biofuels and our climate change goals?
In general, California is on the right track. The state is supporting research, and developing regulations to control greenhouse-gas emissions across the entire economy without picking technological winners. These rules should use market-based tools to minimize the costs, and should ensure other important goals such as reducing air pollution and protecting ecosystems are achieved.
Specifically, the low-carbon fuels standard established last year by the governor's executive order should require biofuels with lower greenhouse-gas emissions, both direct and indirect. Accurate accounting of these emissions will prevent harmful changes in land use. Similarly, the section of the 2007 federal energy law that requires new biofuel production to account for land-use changes is also a good step forward. These provisions are crucial to ensuring that biofuels improve the environment.
But we also need to avoid rules that lead to shocks in our fuel-supply system, like trying to stop the use of biofuels immediately. This would be expensive and might slow the development of more climate-friendly technologies.
Land-use change is a problem of inadequate protection of forests and wetlands. We need an international carbon regime - an agreement that goes beyond Kyoto - that rewards nations for keeping their forests intact. Here, national leadership is needed.
Today's biofuel industry needs to change rapidly in order to avoid worsening the climate-change problem, but doing so will put it on a path toward a sustainable and profitable future. Global agriculture can produce enough food and fuel for our growing world - but we need to make sure that the cheapest way of doing so is also the best for our planet and people.
Alexander E. Farrell is an associate professor of energy and resources at UC Berkeley.
This article appeared on page B - 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Extending 'cap and trade' across state lines
By David R. Baker
The San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday 13 February 2008
California regulators trying to create a "cap and trade" system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions want to extend their reach beyond the state's borders, placing restrictions on out-of-state power plants that sell their electricity here.
Under a proposal drafted by the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission, anyone delivering electricity into California's energy grid would be included in the cap and trade system, which would place limits on carbon dioxide emissions and then let companies buy and sell credits for producing the gas.
The two commissions also want all of the state's utilities to generate more than 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources, such as the sun and the wind. California's three big investor-owned utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric Co., already have to ensure that 20 percent of the power they sell by the end of 2010 comes from renewable sources, but municipal utilities, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, don't.
Both far-reaching ideas come from a set of recommendations that the two commissions released late Friday. They drew praise from the Sierra Club, one of the many organizations trying to shape California's climate change policy.
"It looks like these officials are taking their global warming issues seriously," said Bill Magavern, a lobbyist for the environmental group. "They are certainly on the right track."
A PG&E spokesman said the company is still studying the proposal. But PG&E in general supports the idea of a cap and trade system.
Under a landmark law passed in 2006, California is trying to cut its production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. To do so, California may create a cap and trade system, either by itself or in conjunction with neighboring states. Congressional Democrats are pushing for a national cap and trade system, as well.
Within California, responsibility for creating the system rests with the state's Air Resources Board, which regulates air pollution. The energy commission and the utilities commission oversee the state's electricity industry - a major source of carbon dioxide - and were asked to provide recommendations on the proposed system. Their joint proposal would have to be adopted by the air board in order to take effect.
The two commissions argue that a carbon trading system would need to include out-of-state generators because they supply 20 percent of California's electricity.
So the commissions recommend that any company delivering power into California's energy market be included in the cap and trade system. That approach would include the state's investor-owned utilities and its municipal utilities.
The two commissions suggest that at the start of a cap and trade system, the government should auction some of the credits for emitting carbon dioxide, rather than allocating all the credits for free to the companies that will be included.
Finally, the commissions suggest that the trading system not include the companies that provide California with natural gas. Those companies could be added later, after the system has been established.
Chronicle staff writer Matthew Yi contributed to this report. E-mail David R. Baker at
Proposal calls for cleaner power, more efficiency
By Timothy B. Wheeler
The Baltimore Sun r
Wednesday February 13, 2008
Warning that Marylanders face rising electricity costs, rolling blackouts and environmental havoc if nothing is done, the O'Malley administration urged lawmakers yesterday to act on its bills aimed at encouraging energy conservation and producing cleaner power.

"The goal at the end of the day is affordable, reliable, clean energy," said Malcolm D. Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. He and other officials said the governor's legislative initiatives "attempt to keep our bills down and our lights on" while also reducing the threat of global warming.

While many legislators voiced support, some said they were leery of asking consumers upset about soaring utility bills to pay a little more for less-polluting power or more efficient light bulbs and appliances - even if those purchases save them money over time.
"It seems to me that the weight of the governor's program is on the backs of the consumers," said Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Baltimore County Democrat.

One bill aims to reduce energy consumption in the state 15 percent by 2015 by requiring utilities to offer consumers financial incentives to reduce energy use. Another would allow the state to offer more low-interest loans, rebates and other incentives for energy-efficient measures.

A third measure would more than double the amount of renewable energy that Maryland utilities are required to purchase for sale to their customers, rising to 20 percent by 2022.

Officials reminded lawmakers reviewing the bills in both the House Economic Matters and Senate Finance committees that the state's energy needs are outstripping its supply, with one study warning of rolling blackouts by 2011 if nothing changes.

Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson noted that Maryland, with its lengthy coastline, is especially threatened by rising sea levels from global warming - with emissions from energy use a significant contributor to the threat.

Officials said investing in energy efficiency would save consumers money. Long-lasting fluorescent light bulbs, for instance, save $30 or more over their lifetime, according to federal estimates.

The administration's proposals drew praise from many environmental and consumer groups, as well as from companies selling energy-efficient technology or services. Some legislators even questioned whether the bills went far enough.

But business and industry representatives homed in on the likely up-front costs to curb energy demand or use cleaner sources, such as wind or solar power. "It's difficult for me to go back to my constituents and say by 2022 we'll be doing well," said Burns. "By 2022, half my constituents are going to be dead."

"There are no miracles," replied Paula Carmody, the people's counsel, who represents consumer interests before the Public Service Commission. "It's not as if these high prices are going to go away. The cost of generation and transmission will continue to drive these prices farther and farther up."

Utilities would be required under the legislation to offer incentives to their customers to curb electricity use, but the bill also authorizes the companies to raise their rates slightly to make up for the reduced sales.

The state already plans to reduce greenhouse gases by requiring utilities to buy "allowances" for emissions from their fossil-fuel plants; the money raised by auctioning those emission rights is expected to generate $80 million to $140 million a year. One of the bills heard yesterday would channel the revenues into a fund to pay for rebates, loans and other incentives to reduce consumption.

The requirement for utilities to sell more renewable power also could boost costs to consumers by up to 1 percent, a representative of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado testified.
Sun reporter Laura Smitherman contributed to this article.
Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun,0,5962915.story
Proposal eyes 'green' construction
Annapolis buildings, renovations would curb waste, maximize use of local materials
By Nicole Fuller
The Baltimore Sun
Wednesday February 13, 2008

Annapolis aldermen are considering legislation that would require certain new buildings and major renovations to meet established green standards, a prospect that already has some support in the environmentally conscious city.
The proposed ordinance, one of two pieces of "green" legislation the council is considering, would call for newly constructed or heavily modified buildings of greater than 10,000 square feet to meet the lowest standards in the LEED Green Building Rating System. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings, developed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, are among the leading national benchmarks for green construction.
Buildings of any size must meet the second-lowest, or silver LEED standards; and single-family dwellings must meet the lowest LEED standards, according to the legislation introduced by Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, a longtime environmental advocate.
Tougher standards
The standards encompass elements including integrating natural daylight, minimizing construction waste, treating storm water on site and maximizing the use of local materials.
Craig Purcell, a LEED-certified architect in Annapolis, supports the measure.
"It's kind of an ethic, using reuse," Purcell said. "It might cost a little more, but you save money over the long run in the operation of it. You use less fuel, and there's less carbon going into the environment."
Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Washington have already embraced LEED standards. In Howard County, any county government building of more than 10,000 square feet must be LEED-certified, and a law set to take effect later this year would create incentives for commercial and residential green development. One measure will allow commercial developers to qualify for property tax credits for up to five years if they seek certification at various levels of LEED standards.
Annapolis city council members continued this week to work on other legislation to promote recycling and other environmentally conscious practices.
The proposed ordinance, which effectively killed Alderman Samuel E. Shropshire's efforts last year to ban retailers from using plastic bags, would encourage residents and business owners to use reusable and recyclable materials and to buy goods from companies that employ clean-energy practices.
Ted Weber, co-chair of the Anne Arundel Green Party, testified in support of the bill at a recent council hearing.
Alderwoman Julie Stankivic has proposed several amendments to strengthen the bill, which Moyer introduced in November. They would strike phrases such as "where available," "applicable" and "practicable."
Fewer plastic bags
Shropshire has vowed to add an amendment that would ask large retailers to "reduce significantly" the number of plastic bags distributed.
"We're not going to let up on this issue," Shropshire said. "I will not betray my environmental friends."
The bill, which also calls for the creation of an Environmental Review Committee, is set for a vote at the Feb. 25 council meeting.
The mayor, who has also encouraged tree plantings, wider use of rain barrels and construction of green roofs, has said she wants a broader strategy to help the environment.
"Look, you can ban plastic bags all you want, but it does not make one iota of difference on reducing the carbon footprint," Moyer said.,0,5261642.story
What about the environment?
By Chantal Eustace
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
VANCOUVER -- B.C. will plant 60 million seedlings, help contain urban sprawl, fast-track green developments, create 100,000 solar roofs, clean up landfills, invest in plug-in hybrid vehicles and hydrogen-powered buses and help save the Vancouver Island marmot.
But critics said many of the environmental promises in today's throne speech were simply recycled from last year and wondered whether there will be money for them in next week's budget. The speech, read by Lt.-Gov. Steven Point, encouraged people to conserve energy and take action.
"New challenges, like climate change, call everyone to action with new speed and urgency, and a new emphasis on sustainability," it said. "Waiting for others to act is not a solution - it compounds the problem. Taking refuge in the status quo because others refuse to change is not an answer. It's avoiding responsibility and being generationally selfish."
The strategies in the speech included LiveSmart BC, aimed at containing urban sprawl and rewarding green developments. It included plans to plant millions of trees in backyards, schoolyards, hospital grounds, civic parks, campuses, parking lots and other public spaces.
It said new incentives will be created to encourage the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles, along with expanded plans to get high-emission vehicles off the road. It spoke about outreach for youth and environmental education campaigns.
The list was long and ambitious, but without funding the promises are empty, said NDP environmental critic Shane Simpson.
"There wasn't a whole lot of specifics there, you know, and no sense of what the costs are and no sense of how these things will be paid for," Simpson said.
Until the provincial budget is released Feb. 19, it is impossible to know if any of these green goals will come to fruition, he said. For instance, a goal to plant 60 million seedlings within four years or to pursue a goal of "zero net deforestation," could cost billions.
"In order to take anything seriously from the throne speech, there really needs to be something substantive in the budget that actually reflects where there's some resources being applied to achieve this," Simpson said.
And he said that without financial support to back up promises, the speech wasn't particularly new: "Much of it was a rehash of last year's throne speech."
Despite familiar environmental jargon, some parts of the speech were groundbreaking, said environmentalist Ian Bruce, a spokesman for the David Suzuki Foundation.
He read aloud a quote from the speech: "We cannot be paralysed into inaction by the scale of the task at hand. Rather, we will act now to make a real difference, and to encourage behavioural changes that will drive sustainable growth as a global imperative. Market forces can play a positive role in this regard."
Bruce said the connection between the environment and market forces could be a good indicator of a green provincial budget.
"We need the power of market forces that work in order to encourage clean energy and reduce dirty energy forces from the burning of fossil fuels." said Bruce.
He said he thinks the speech indicated the budget will contain financial incentives to be green, like a carbon tax.
The throne speech also referred to a new Pacific Carbon Trust, aimed at "carbon credit trading and carbon offsets." And it said legislation will be introduced this session to facilitate B.C.'s participation in a regional "cap and trade" system that is being developed under the Western Climate Initiative, to be completed this year.
"I think the speech today set up B.C. as a potential North American leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but we'll only know if they live up to their word next week when the budget's released and the comprehensive climate action plan is released in the coming weeks," said Bruce.
Overall, he said, the throne speech seemed to be a positive indicator for B.C.'s future. But the government's Climate Action Plan - which will address plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020 - will not be included in the budget.
Premier Gordon Campbell told the media today: "It made sense to me to wait until we had the full scope of the government's initiatives in place - the throne speech and then the budget - and then we will have a comprehensive plan that we can put forward to the public."
That troubled Simpson, who said he has concerns about the government's decision to separate important environmental plans from the budget.
"That raises an immediate concern. If it's not in the budget, then will it be funded and if it's not funded this year then do we have to wait until 2009 until it's funded?"
Environment Minister Barry Penner said the coming budget would include "allocations" for green initiatives but could not disclose any details.
Kyoto report card says climate change more than communication issue
By Mike De Souza
The Gazette
Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, February 12
OTTAWA - The Harper government should stop treating climate change as a communications problem and recognize it as a public policy issue by dramatically reversing its current plan, says a new report to be released Wednesday.
Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way, the third annual Kyoto Protocol report card produced by the Sierra Club of Canada, identified the government's focus on communications as a fundamental weakness in its climate change policies.
"The government has deployed considerable effort in the past year attempting to address its communications problems on climate change, rather than attempting to implement public policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avert dangerous climate change," said the report, obtained by Canwest News Service.
The government has recently come under fire following revelations that it is cracking down on federal scientists by requiring them to seek approval before speaking to reporters. Government officials also attempted to restrict access for photographers at a recent international conference in Indonesia to prevent the appearance of images of Environment Minister John Baird with palm trees or a beach in the background.
"In the coming year, Canadians will likely head to the polls in what could be the climate change election," said the report. "Time will tell whether they are swayed by substance or spin."
The report card marks the third anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change coming into force as the first international agreement to set legally binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions industrialized countries. The Harper government is the only member of the treaty to announce it would not honour its Kyoto commitments, but the report said that it should make "best efforts" to meet its targets and strive to dramatically reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
"Australia's 2007 federal election was fought and won in part on climate change policy with Australians ousting their anti-Kyoto government," the report said. "One of the first actions of the newly elected government was to announce that Australia would finally ratify the Kyoto Protocol."
But the report praised provincial governments in Quebec and British Columbia for leading others with climate change policies such as a carbon tax and stricter emissions standards for new cars. It also praised municipalities, noting that 150 cities, representing more than half the Canadian population, have joined a national partnership that is committed to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"All over Canada, municipalities are showing leadership and taking action to help solve global warming," said the report. "From municipal investments in building retrofits, water conservation, and landfill gas capture, to improvements in waste reduction, fleet management, public transit, and urban planning, local governments are moving forward with innovative solutions that curb global warming, save taxpayer dollars, and create healthier communities. These municipal leaders are moving Canada toward a safer and more secure future."
The report said that these municipalities play an important role in addressing climate change since they are able to control or influence up to half of the country's emissions.
It also recommended that the federal government start following the example set by others, including European countries which have established clear signals to put a price on the pollution that is linked to global warming through taxes or a free market trading system. Environmentalists and opposition parties have both criticized the government for choosing to use flexible targets that require reductions in pollution per unit of production. The so-called "intensity" approach would allow emissions to increase from any sector that is in growth.
Nobel winner urges oil execs to help cut emissions
By Bernie Woodall
Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Rajendra Pachauri said he thought he was "walking into the lion's den" on Tuesday when he told oil executives they need to take a lead in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in order to save the earth.
Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, said the oil industry has been both lion and lamb when it comes to seeing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming.
"It's a very mixed response," Pachauri said on the sidelines of the CERA Week Energy Conference held at the heart of the U.S. oil industry in Houston.
"I was very struck by (ConocoPhillips Chief Executive) Jim Mulva's presentation when he talked about the pressure that the public is going to put on legislators and on companies," Pachauri said. "And those who do not accept that reality will face a huge reputational risk."
Mulva on Tuesday told the conference that the U.S. government should enact climate change policies that would tie into programs abroad. Mulva also said the petroleum industry must cut greenhouse gas emissions and that those in it "no longer have the luxury of standing on the sideline."
Pachauri noted Europe's BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have long said emissions must be cut.
"They have been several years ahead of what you see over here," Pachauri said. "There are others who are still apparently not convinced that something needs to be done. So it's a mixed picture."
Pachauri, 67, said he will make a decision in "two or three weeks" whether he will run for another term as IPCC chairman. He joked that the IPCC could be dissolved since "captains of industry" are having the same discussions on climate change.
The IPCC issued its fourth assessment of climate change three months ago, saying greenhouse gas emissions -- mainly carbon dioxide -- must begin to fall by 2015 to avoid dire consequences from seas rising to droughts and agriculture production declines.
Pachauri said fossil fuel combustion accounts for 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Without policy changes by industry and governments, that figure will rise by about 50 percent by 2020. He said burning coal will account for the biggest share of that global emissions increase.
Business interests including major U.S. oil companies will cut emissions, he said, adding that he hopes they see the financial rationale now to help global emissions start to drop in 2015.
A major reason for this hope is that a price for carbon will soon be set by carbon trading or caps, setting a clear market signal, Pachauri said.
"The world will be moving to a low-carbon future, therefore companies that take the lead will meet with success in both business and in the eyes of society," Pachauri said.
"Those who don't will be left behind. I think that's becoming more and more apparent. Business in the future will be dominated by concerns related to production of greenhouse gas emissions."
(Editing by Braden Reddall)


13 February 2008

**Press Conference

In connection with the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, institutional investors from Connecticut, Florida, California and the British Telecom Pension Scheme will hold a press conference here at 1:45 p.m. tomorrow to announce the Investor Action Plan. We have more information on the Summit available at the Media Documents Centre. That all I have for you today, thank you.

Spokesperson: There was a series of phone calls made by the Secretary-General on the issue of Myanmar. He had a telephone conversation with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the two discussed two issues, in fact, climate change and Myanmar. So Myanmar was one of the issues discussed, and they also exchanged views specifically on the announcement by the Myanmar Government of a political road map. As you know, the situation is being followed very closely. The Secretary-General also spoke to the Foreign Minister of China and the Foreign Minister of India, and they spoke about both issues; climate change and Myanmar.

Question: More on the calls. The call with Tony Blair; I assume the topic was the Quartet and Gaza. Did climate change arise and did anything else arise?

Spokesperson: No, Mr. Blair briefed the Secretary-General on his recent travels to the region, and they discussed the way forward, specifically the situation in Gaza, and this is all I have at this point. It was about his role as special envoy.

Question: I’m sorry, but just to clarify. Tony Blair has recently taken a post with financial institutions as an adviser on climate change. And I wonder again if there’s any thought in the UN system that there could be any possible conflict of interest in his role with the UN and receiving, in this case it’s $2 million a year for advising financial institutions on climate change.
Publicado por LUCÍA ANGÉLICA FOLINO en 18:44
ECOCIDIO ANUNCIADO ( etimológicamente del griego y el latín)
febrero 25, 2008

Hernán P. Nadal

Soy Coordinador de Nuevas Tecnologías de Greenpeace Argentina. Trabajo además como consultor en temas de MKT y FundRaising online, innovación y desarrollos móviles.

Amazonía, ecocidio anunciado

"No existe caña en la Amazonía. No tenemos conocimiento de ningún proyecto en la región, ni reciente ni antiguo", afirmó Reinhold Stephanes, ministro de Agricultura, haciendo eco a la campaña oficial de que la caña se mantiene lejos de la selva (O Globo, 29-07-2007).

Datos oficiales revelan que la plantación de caña de azúcar avanza sobre la Amazonía, a pesar de las negaciones del gobierno federal. Proyectos azucareros y alcoholeros instalados en Acre, Maranhão, Pará y Tocantins pasan por momentos de expansión acelerada. La región no sólo es fértil sino también competitiva. Lula se equivocó al afirmar que la caña "queda muy lejos de la Amazonía".

Según un informe de la Compañía Nacional de Abastecimiento (Conab), vinculada al Ministerio de Agricultura, la zafra de caña de la Amazonía Legal -que abarca estados como Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará y Tocantins- aumentó de 17.6 millones de toneladas a 19.3 millones en el período 2007-2008.

Dicho cultivo en la Amazonía atrae incluso a inversores extranjeros. El fondo de inversión Cooper Fund, de jubilados estadounidenses, ahora es socio del grupo TG Agro Industrial/Costa Pinto, que produce alcohol en Aldeias Altas (Maranhão). En el municipio de Campestre del Maranhão el empresario Celso Izar, de la Maity Bioenergía, negocia con inversores extranjeros cuatro proyectos, cada uno estipulado en US$ 130 millones, para producir 1.2 millones de toneladas de caña. La empresa produce actualmente un millón de toneladas.

Greenpeace cree que el gobierno no reúne condiciones para hacer valer la prohibición de plantar caña en la Amazonía. Aunque haya leyes prohibitivas, ¿cómo las puede implementar el gobierno? No basta con prohibir, es necesario inhibir la plantación. Ya sería más que suficiente si el gobierno llevara a la práctica lo que anunció el presidente Lula: cerrar el grifo de los bancos públicos a los inversores y dejar de liberar financiamientos. Sólo así sería posible paralizar nuevos proyectos.

Otro grave problema en la región amazónica es la extracción ilegal de maderas preciosas: cedro, caoba, freijó, jataí. Cada día 3.500 camiones circulan por el interior de la selva cargando madera ilegal. Con la escasez de la misma en el mundo, el precio del metro cúbico de la madera sacada de la Amazonía es pagado por los madereros a los propietarios de la zona a una media de US$ 10; después, la sierran y la exportan en forma de planchas o bloques cuadrados.

En Europa esa madera es vendida por los comerciantes locales a los fabricantes de muebles o a los consumidores comunes a un precio cercano a los US$ 1.400 el metro cúbico. O sea, una diferencia del 1.280%. El Brasil es el segundo mayor exportador de madera del mundo, por detrás de Indonesia.

En los últimos 37 años, desde que la dictadura empezó la carrera hacia la Amazonía, fueron taladas 70 millones de hectáreas, de las cuales el 78% han sido ocupadas por 80 millones de cabezas de ganado. Mientras tanto, por la madera exportada el Brasil sólo recaudó US$ 2.800 millones. Menos de lo ingresado por las exportaciones de Embraer, fabricante de aviones, durante un año.

Los ganaderos deforestan para tener pastos. Basta con saber que los mayores productores de carne están exactamente en los municipios paraenses donde hay mayor deforestación: São Félix do Xingu, Marabá, Conceição do Araguaia… Y otro detalle: el 62% de los casos de trabajo esclavo se dan en las haciendas ganaderas.

Grandes empresas, que poseen vastas extensiones de tierra en la Amazonía legal, deforestan para plantar eucalipto y transformarlo en carbón vegetal destinado a sus siderúrgicas en la región. Echan abajo la selva tropical más rica en biodiversidad del mundo e implantan el monocultivo de eucalipto, sin ninguna diversidad vegetal, y lo transforman en carbón, que aumenta el calentamiento global. En tanto las empresas se agigantan, la nación se queda con el peso de la degradación ambiental.

La Amazonía es víctima de un ecocidio en función de la ganancia del capital. Si la sociedad no presiona y el gobierno no actúa, en el futuro habrá allí un nuevo Sahara, con graves consecuencias para la sobrevivencia de la humanidad y de la Tierra.

Autor: Frei Betto.
Publicado por LUCÍA ANGÉLICA FOLINO en 18:34
febrero 27, 2008
Alberto te enseña como vivir.
Leyendo Interlink News, blog de un ex profesor (Alejandro Piscitelli) y un ex jefe mío (Raúl Drelichman), encontré un listado con 10 frases de Albert Einstein que sin duda mostraban la claridad mental de una de las personas más inteligentes que tuvo la historia moderna.

Estas reflexiones valen la pena que sean leídas:

“Alguien que nunca ha cometido errores nunca trató de hacer algo nuevo.” - En otras palabras, la mayoría de las personas nunca prueba cosas nuevas por temer a fracasar. El fracaso no es algo a que temer. Por lo general los perdedores aprenden más de ganar que los mismos ganadores. Nuestros errores nos dan oportunidad de aprender y crecer.

“La educación es lo que sobra después que a uno se le olvida lo que aprendió en la escuela.” Es decir, la educación es lo que uno aprende sobre la marcha de la vida, y no los simples detalles que uno memoriza en un momento determinado.

“Soy lo suficiente artista como para dibujar de mi imaginación. La imaginación es más importante que el conocimiento. El conocimiento es limitado. La imaginación envuelve al mundo.”

“El secreto de la creatividad es saber esconder tus fuentes.” - En el contexto en donde Einstein dijo esto quiso decir que aunque somos influenciados por otras grandes personas, en el momento de subir a un escenario debemos dejar atrás a esas personas y convertirnos en un individuo único y original, que aprende diferentes valores de diferentes personas.

“El valor de un hombre debe medirse por lo que da y no por lo que recibe. No trates de convertirte en un hombre de éxito sino en un hombre de valores.”

“Existen dos maneras de vivir: Puedes vivir como si nada es un milagro, o puedes vivir como si todo es un milagro.” - Con esto quiso decir que cuando nada es un milagro que tú obtienes el poder de hacer lo que sea sin límites. Y cuando todo es un milagro, te detienes a apreciar hasta la mas pequeña de todas las cosas bellas del mundo. El pensar de ambas maneras te dará un vida productiva y feliz.

“Cuando me examino a mí mismo y mis métodos de pensar, llego a la conclusión que el don de la fantasía ha significado mas para mí que cualquier otro talento para pensar positivo y abstractamente.” - Es decir, el soñar sobre todas las cosas que puedes lograr en la vida es la clave para una vida llena de positivismo. Deja que tu imaginación te lleve por todo tipo de senderos y crea al mundo en el que desearías vivir.

“Para ser un miembro inmaculado de un rebaño de ovejas, uno debe, sobre todas las cosas, primero ser una oveja.” - Con esto quiso decir que si deseas ser un empresario exitoso, debes empezar tu propio negocio inmediatamente. El solo desear serlo, mientras le tienes miedo a las consecuencias no va a ayudar. Lo mismo aplica para todo: Para ganar un partido uno debe primero y ante todo que jugar el partido.

“Debes aprender las reglas del juego. Y después debes jugar mejor que todo el mundo.” - En otras palabras, haz el mejor trabajo posible que puedas, como si tu vida dependiera de ello, y después que no tengas contra quien competir, solo te tendrás a ti mismo contra quien competir. En ese momento, mejora lo mejor que hayas logrado.

“Lo importante de todo es nunca dejar de hacerte preguntas. La curiosidad tiene su propia razón de existir.” - Con esto Einstein quiso decir que las personas inteligentes preguntan. No dejes de hacer preguntas a ti mismo y a otros para encontrar soluciones, pues esto te ayudará obtener conocimientos y analizar tu crecimiento en todos los caminos de la vida.

Publicado por LUCÍA ANGÉLICA FOLINO en 18:27
Estrategia y Strategos

El Negocio es el justificativo final de la existencia de la Organización.

Negocio proviene del vocablo latín “negotium” que significa: “actividad que genera utilidad, interés o provecho para quien la practica”.

Bajo ésta premisa todas las organizaciones están sustentadas por un Negocio, porque ninguna de ellas se forma ajena al sentido de utilidad interés o provecho en el ejercicio de sus actividades.

Y no sólo las organizaciones empresariales, tampoco la familia y el Estado, en los extremos de las instituciones llamadas por su naturaleza a ser “administradas”.

En las organizaciones empresariales no todas las actividades generan utilidad, interés o provecho con la misma jerarquía, tan sólo lo hacen las funciones de Producción y de Ventas.

Alrededor de éstas, todas las demás funciones deben entenderse como de apoyo y deben justificar su existencia (y su tamaño) únicamente como efecto de la existencia y la necesidad de aquellas.

Las funciones de Producción y Ventas explican el Negocio de una Organización, sólo ellas. El resto de las tareas en una Organización son una consecuencia de éstas primeras.Y dado que debe asumirse que las organizaciones no producen nada que no entiendan que puede venderse, entonces la función de Ventas tiene preeminencia sobre la de Producción, convirtiéndose en la función organizacional que por excelencia perfecciona el Negocio.Las Ventas, por ello mismo, se encuentran ubicadas en un sitial que no puede alcanzar ninguna otra tarea en la Organización, incluida, por supuesto, la Mercadotecnia, la misma que se incluye sólo como un conjunto de técnicas destinadas a soportar la tarea vital de Ventas.
El afán de perfeccionar el Negocio por medio de las Ventas coloca a las organizaciones en un estado de Conflicto, ocasionado por el hecho que existen otras organizaciones que buscan lo mismo, y tienen por ello intereses opuestos, antagónicos. Esto es la Competencia. El elemento motriz del perpetuo Conflicto que enfrentan las organizaciones en su afán de perfeccionar su Negocio.
La Estrategia, por otra parte, es un concepto milenario que la mente humana ha desarrollado para enfrentar el Conflicto entre intereses opuestos. De allí que constituya elemento fundamental en el afán de las organizaciones para perfeccionar el Negocio. La Estrategia es precisamente el concepto de gobierno del Negocio. Y dado que éste último se explica por medio de las Ventas, la Estrategia es primero, después y siempre Estrategia de Ventas.

El término de Estrategia no puede estar reservado para nada más en las organizaciones. Conceptualmente no existe nada que pueda llamarse Estrategia de Mercadeo, Estrategia de Finanzas, Estrategia de Recursos Humanos, Estrategia Organizacional, etc. El término está reservado en estado virginal, limpio y puro para las Ventas.

Alrededor de la Estrategia de Ventas la Organización desarrolla todos sus propósitos, sus inquietudes, sus programas de acción y el resto de sus intereses. Solamente así se perfecciona el Negocio y se alcanza un eficaz rendimiento competitivo.

La Estrategia tampoco puede entenderse como un Plan (ésta es otra “construcción” completamente mal concebida). La Estrategia interactúa con el Conflicto y éste solo entiende la Acción. Una cosa es un Plan y otra cosa la Estrategia.

Ni a uno ni a otro le conviene o le interesa tamaña confusión.

Puede aceptarse que la Estrategia es una “forma de Pensar”, o una forma de hacer las cosas que se gesta entre los entramados de la mente de las personas, pero en todo caso es una forma de Pensar sobre el Conflicto y las opciones existentes para dirimirlo a favor de los intereses propios.

Y en ese sentido trabaja siempre a favor de los intereses del Negocio.

Tampoco la Estrategia presenta libertades mayores cuando se explica como una “forma de Pensar”, porque hasta en ello se fundamenta en la existencia de principios propios, en este caso los Principios Estratégicos.

Los Principios Estratégicos resumen sabiduría milenaria de innumerables ocasiones y formas en las que el hombre ha interactuado con el Conflicto. Probablemente su aplicación es más válida hoy que el momento en que fueron concebidos.

Se hace Estrategia cuando se aplican Principios Estratégicos, los mismos que además son innumerables, pero siempre orientados a la resolución del Conflicto.

La Estrategia, por otra parte, es un término que etimológicamente proviene del vocablo griego “strategos”, que significa General.

En origen la Estrategia no tiene un significado diferente, mucho menos alguno que conduzca a la enorme confusión que se tiene hoy día.

El significado ni siquiera alude a un verbo, alude a un individuo: el General, el Comandante de las fuerzas militares llamadas a resolver un Conflicto.

Es cierto que debe asumirse que el propio termino emerge del verbo “stratego” que alude al acto de planificar la destrucción de los enemigos en razón del uso eficaz de los recursos, pero concluye en una remisión directa al individuo, tratando de indicar enfáticamente que el acto le corresponde intrínsecamente a ESE individuo.Así las cosas, entonces Estrategia significa aquello que en esencia hace el General, el STRATEGOS.La Estrategia termina por lo tanto siendo una concepción absolutamente personalizada, vinculada a la tarea de un individuo.

Amparado en ésta deducción, este proyecto plantea que Estrategia es la función del STRATEGOS. Con ello el énfasis de la definición se traslada del Objeto al Sujeto, al Individuo.

Si Estrategia es todo aquello que hace el STRATEGOS para dirimir el Conflicto a favor de los intereses propios, entonces el enfoque, el estudio, debe concentrarse en el Hombre.

Si se define QUÉ debe hacer el STRATEGOS y CÓMO debe hacerlo en su interacción con el Conflicto, se concluye por definir lo que Estrategia ES.

Así, el STRATEGOS se convierte en el Profesional de la Estrategia, en el entendido principal de la resolución del Conflicto, en el agente fundamental de conocimiento e interacción con el factor motriz del Conflicto: la Competencia.El STRATEGOS constituye la respuesta que la Organización tiene para interactuar ventajosamente con el Sistema de Libre Mercado y su sostén: el Fenómeno competitivo.

Por último, y para poder desarrollar su tarea de manera apropiada el STRATEGOS precisa conocer con profundidad la Organización. Porque de ella emergen los esfuerzos colectivos, por medio de sus recursos se ejecuta la Estrategia y para el mejor beneficio de ella se persiguen los resultados.En el Ejército, ésa Organización de la que tantas cosas hereda la ciencia administrativa, el STRATEGOS tarda no menos de veinte años para llegar a ésa condición.

Todo este tiempo lo invierte en conocer la Organización hasta en sus mínimos detalles.
El conjunto de lo que es la Organización, el STRATEGOS, la Estrategia y el Conflicto, se llama en éste proyecto LO ESTRATÉGICO.Precisamente cada una de sus cuatro partes componentes le da forma a un capítulo correspondiente.
No es sencillo determinar el alcance que el proyecto en sí pueda tener. Existen muchísimas limitaciones. Pero en tanto constituya una herramienta en la toma de conciencia y formación del STRATEGOS y su necesaria preparación para las tareas que exige el fenómeno competitivo, habrá cumplido su objetivo.
Publicado por LUCÍA ANGÉLICA FOLINO en 18:21
ALTRUISM : Myth or Reality?
Altruism: Myth or Reality?

We humans devote much time and energy to helping others.

We send money to famine victims halfway around the world—or to save whales.

We stay up all night to comfort a friend with a broken relationship.

We stop on a busy highway to help a stranded motorist change a flat tire.

Why do we do these things? What is our motive?

The dominant answer in Western thought is well expressed by the wise and witty

Duke de la Rouchefoucauld, 2001: “The most disinterested love is, after all, but a kind of bargain, in which the dear love of our own selves always proposes to be the gainer some way or other” (Maxim 82, 1691).

Bernard Mandeville puts it even more graphically:

"There is no merit in saving an innocent babe ready to drop into the fire. The action is neither good nor bad, and what benefit soever the infant received, we only obliged our selves, for to have seen it fall, and not strove to hinder it, would have caused a pain, which self-preservation compelled us to prevent. . . . (1714/1732, p. 42)

"According to La Rouchefoucauld, Mandeville, and many others, altruism—motivation with the ultimate goal of increasing another’s welfare—is a myth. It does not really exist. The motivation for everything we do is egoistic.

Our ultimate goal is always to increase our own welfare.

We help others only to the extent that helping them benefits us.

Egoistic Motives for Helping Others

The case against altruism can be very persuasive because we can benefit in many ways from helping others. Some ways are obvious, as when we get paid or praised for what we do, or escape punishment or censure.

Even when we help in the absence of external rewards, we may still benefit.

As Mandeville suggested, seeing someone in distress—the babe ready to drop into the fire—may cause us distress, and we help because it relieves our distress. Or we may help to feel good about ourselves for being kind. Or to escape feeling guilt and shame for being callous.

Even heroes and martyrs can benefit from their acts of apparent selflessness.

Consider soldiers who save their comrades by diving on a grenade. They may have acted to escape anticipated guilt and shame for letting others die. Or to gain the admiration and praise of those left behind—or rewards in an afterlife. Or they may simply have misjudged the situation, not realizing their actions would cost them their lives.

The suggestion that heroic acts could be motivated by self-benefit may seem cynical, but it must be faced if we are to know whether altruism really exists.

Empathic Concern: A Possible Source of Altruistic Motivation

To be sure, Western thought has had advocates of altruism, including such prominent figures as Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Charles Darwin.

What do these advocates think produces altruistic motivation? In both earlier philosophical writing and more recent psychological work, the most frequently mentioned possible source of altruism is an other-oriented emotional reaction to seeing another person in need. This reaction has been called by many names, including sympathy, pity, compassion, soft-heartedness, and tenderness.

We call it empathic concern. It is other-oriented in that it involves feeling for, not feeling as, the other. (Some researchers, such as Eisenberg, 2000, use empathy to refer to feeling as the other feels; we do not.) The proposal that empathic concern produces altruistic motivation to relieve the empathy-inducing need has been called the empathy-altruism hypothesis (Batson, 1991).

There are three conspicuous self-benefits of empathy-induced helping, producing three egoistic alternatives to the empathy-altruism hypothesis: aversive-arousal reduction, punishment avoidance, and reward gain. Advocates of the empathy-altruism hypothesis do not deny that relieving the empathy-inducing need is likely to enable the helper to reduce aversive arousal, avoid punishments, and gain rewards. However, they claim that these self-benefits are not the ultimate goal of empathy-induced helping, only unintended consequences. Advocates of the egoistic alternatives disagree. They claim that one or more of these self-benefits is the ultimate goal of the motivation to help produced by empathy. The (Psycho)Logical Puzzle: Inferring a Person’s Ultimate Goal

If empathy-induced helping benefits both the person in need and the helper, how are we to know which is the ultimate goal?

This puzzle has led many scientists to give up on the question of the existence of altruism, concluding that it cannot be answered empirically. Their surrender seems premature.

Often, we can make informed judgments about people’s ultimate goals.

We can tell whether a student is really interested or only seeking a better grade (What happens to the student’s interest after the grades are turned in?), why a friend chose one job over another, and whether politicians mean what they say or are only after votes. And we can tell why someone does us a favor or is kind.

Four principles are important when attempting to determine the ultimate goal of empathy-induced helping.

First, simply asking people why they helped will not work. Especially in a value-laden area like helping, people often do not know—or will not tell—their ultimate goals (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977).

Second, goals are not directly observable; we must infer them from behavior. Third, if we observe a behavior (helping) that has two potential ultimate goals (altruism, egoism), the true ultimate goal cannot be determined.

It is like having one equation with two unknowns.

Fourth, if we change the situation so that this behavior is no longer the best route to one of these goals (the grades are in), and we still observe the behavior (interest), then that goal (a better grade) is not ultimate.

We can cross it off the list of possible ultimate goals.Testing the Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis and the Egoistic Alternatives

Following this logic, we and other social psychologists have conducted a series of experiments to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis against the three egoistic alternatives. Typically, research participants are given an opportunity to help a person in need for whom they have been led to feel low or high empathic concern.

A cross-cutting variable is manipulated that changes whether helping is the most effective means (a) to reach the altruistic ultimate goal of removing the other’s need or (b) to reach one or more of the possible egoistic ultimate goals. This procedure allows us to test competing empirical predictions from the empathy-altruism hypothesis and the egoistic alternatives.

The most popular egoistic alternative is aversive-arousal reduction.

This alternative claims that to feel empathic concern is distressing, and we help those for whom we feel empathy because doing so eliminates the stimulus causing our concern.

Mandeville’s account of why we save the innocent babe is an aversive-arousal reduction explanation. Is this why people who feel empathic concern help? To find out, we need to vary the situation so that empathic concern can be eliminated in a less costly way than by helping. One way to do this is by varying whether the potential helper can—without helping—easily escape continued exposure to the other’s suffering, the stimulus causing empathic concern. If the ultimate goal of empathy-aroused helping is to remove the empathic concern (egoism), then people who can easily escape should help less than those who cannot. If, on the other hand, the ultimate goal is to reduce the other’s suffering (altruism), they should not help less.

Reducing the empathic concern without helping does nothing to reduce the other’s suffering.

Over a half-dozen experiments have been conducted employing this logic.

(To imagine yourself in one, see Box 1.) Results consistently reveal that when empathic concern is low, the rate of helping is lower when escape is easy than when escape is difficult, which suggests egoistic motivation to relieve one’s personal distress. However, when empathic concern is high, the rate of helping is high even when escape is easy, which suggests motivation to relieve the other’s suffering, not the empathic concern. These results clearly contradict the aversive-arousal reduction explanation. They support the empathy-altruism hypothesis instead.
Publicado por LUCÍA ANGÉLICA FOLINO en 12:44
ALTRUISMO - término acuñado por Comte.

El altruismo (del francés antiguo "altrui" = de los otros) se puede entender como:

Comportamiento que aumenta las probabilidades de supervivencia de otros a costa de una reducción de las propias.
Sacrificio personal por el beneficio de otros. [1]

De acuerdo a la Real Academia Española, el altruismo proviene del francés "altruisme" y designa la [1. m.]

Diligencia en procurar el bien ajeno aun a costa del propio.

El término altruismo se refiere a una práctica y a un hábito tanto como una doctrina filosófica. El altruismo se considera como una virtud en algunas filosofías y como un vicio en otras.

Fuera del contexto de la zoología, el altruismo es definido como la preocupación o devoción desinteresada por el bienestar de otros, o lo contrario al egoísmo. Suelen existir diferentes puntos de vista sobre el significado y alcance del altruismo.

Contenido [ocultar]
1 Altruismo en psicología y sociología
2 Altruismo en etología y biología evolucionista
3 Aparición del altruismo en humanos
4 Altruismo en Wikipedia
5 Referencias
6 Véase también
7 Enlaces externos

Altruismo en psicología y sociología-

El filósofo francés Auguste Comte acuñó la palabra "altruisme" (con la acepción número 3) en 1851 y ésta fue adoptada luego por el castellano. Muchos consideran su sistema ético (en el que los únicos actos moralmente correctos son aquellos que intentan promover la felicidad de otros) algo extremo, lo que llevó al desarrollo de la acepción de las personas 1.

Es aquella conducta que beneficia a otros, que es voluntaria y que su autor no anticipa beneficios externos.

Altruismo en etología y biología evolucionista

El altruismo en etología y por consiguiente en la biología evolucionista es el patrón de comportamiento animal, en el cual un individuo pone en riesgo su vida para proteger y beneficiar a otros miembros del grupo.

Casi todas estas teorías nos explican cómo un individuo puede sacrificar incluso su propia supervivencia por proteger la de los demás, aunque siempre añaden el hecho de que entre los miembros de ese grupo ha de hallarse algún miembro que comparta parte de sus mismos genes. Ésta sería una manera de asegurar la continuidad de su código genético. Pese a ello, esta teoría resulta insuficiente para explicar las conductas altruistas que se desarrollan hacia individuos no emparentados, es decir con los que no se comparte código genético.

Para explicar el altruismo no emparentado, se ha postulado que en estos casos la conducta altruista se lleva a cabo cuando el individuo espera de alguna forma ser recompensado por el otro o por algún otro miembro del grupo; o que por último algunas de las conductas altruistas pueden ser el resultado de la necesidad del individuo de sentirse aceptado por el grupo, por sentirse partícipe dentro de él, con lo cual indirectamente también obtiene un beneficio. Esta acepción fue propuesta por científicos que exploraban las razones por las que podría haber evolucionado el comportamiento no egoísta. Se aplica no sólo a las personas (altruismo psicológico), sino también a animales y hasta a plantas.

Existe, sin embargo, una interpretación de la noción de altruismo contraria a la anteriormente expuesta. En su obra El gen egoísta (1976), Richard Dawkins acusa a estas tesis de desviarse del darwinismo ortodoxo y propone, a cambio, una concepción que entiende la evolución considerando el bien del individuo (gen), y no el de la especie, como factor capital. Dawkins sostiene que lo que habitualmente se entiende por altruismo, esto es: la conducta de un organismo cuando se comporta de tal manera que contribuya a aumentar el bienestar de otro ser semejante a expensas de su propio bienestar[1] se trataría de un altruismo individual aparente y, por lo mismo, la conducta contraria sería un egoísmo individual aparente. Así, su tesis fuerte consiste en que existe una ley fundamental denominada egoísmo de los genes que explica tanto el altruismo como el egoísmo individual desde el punto de vista genético. En definitiva, Dawkins sostiene que la interpretación ortodoxa de la selección natural darwiniana es aquella que la concibe como selección de genes (egoísmo del gen), y no como selección de grupos (altruismo entre individuos).

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