Friday, April 20, 2018

Sea level, temperature rise threaten Cayman in just 80 years


The most-startling prediction is that a quarter-meter rise in sea levels, less than 10 inches, will swamp 33 buildings in Grand Cayman, among them 17 private homes and two apartment blocks.

Apart from the shock value, the striking thing about the forecasts are that they are nine years old, published in 2009. Yet little has changed. If anything, says Nick Robson, head of climate research organization The Cayman Institute, sea level rise has accelerated.

“The institute’s report on SLR predicted a one-meter rise by 2100,” he said last week. “However, SLR appears to be escalating and may well be more than one meter.”

Pointing to Government Information Services maps, Robson says, the flooding from a sea level rise of only one-quarter meter, 9.94 inches, rapidly becomes “progressively worse from there – and if you model an Ivan-type storm surge on top of the SLR, it quickly becomes frightening.” Read More

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Protect indigenous people’s land rights and the whole world will benefit, UN forum declares


In her opening remarks to the Forum in New York, the chairperson, Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, a medical doctor from Timbuktu, Mali, called the land husbandry of Aboriginal peoples “part of our history and heritage.”

But few countries have acted to defend these peoples’ collective rights, she added.

“Law enforcement is inadequate or non-existent, and other elements of Legislation go against these rights,” she said. Measures necessary to give meaning to land rights, such as tenure delimitation and allocating title deeds, are often not implemented.

Moreover, she continued, those who defend indigenous rights continue to be targeted when they raise their voices – particularly when States or private actors seek their resources for aggressive development such as logging.

“As long as our rights over our lands, territories and resources are not recognized,” she added, indigenous people risk falling far short of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“In the same way,” she said, “the world risks losing the fight against climate change and the destruction of the environment.”

UN for all peoples

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák reminded everyone “The United Nations is here for people. And that includes indigenous people.”

“But we cannot yet say that this Organization has opened its doors wide enough,” he said. “And so, we need to be more ambitious.”

Mr. Lajčák, of Slovakia painted a grim picture of the situation facing indigenous people today, pointing out that while they make up only five per cent of the world’s population, they comprise 15 per cent of the world’s poorest people.

“That is shocking,” he said, adding that their human rights are being violated, they are being excluded and marginalized and face violence for asserting their basic rights.

Focusing on the theme of indigenous land, territories and resources, he said: “Indigenous people are being dispossessed. They are losing the lands their ancestors called home.”

But with global attention to indigenous rights on the rise, Mr. Lajčák saw reasons for hope, as well.

“The signs do look positive,” he said, noting that the UN teams on the ground are developing stronger partnerships, determined to make these communities stronger.

“We should be hopeful. But we cannot ignore the very real, and very serious, challenges. They cast a shadow over the future of many indigenous communities. And they demand our urgent attention,” he said.

When Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, spoke, he explained how for 500 years the indigenous people of America have waged a resistance campaign to defend their dignity and identity.

“We are all descendants of Mother Earth, so we are all brothers and sisters,” he underscored.

The seventeenth annual Forum opened to a ceremonial cultural performance and a traditional welcome by Todadaho Sid Hill, Chief of the Onondaga Nation from New York State.

Established in 2000, the forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as well as to specialized agencies that work on issues like development, agriculture, environmental protection and human rights. Read More

Source: UN News

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change

Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change | | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University

In the months leading up to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, Spring Creek Project will present the Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change. You can view the lectures released thus far on the Spring Creek Project YouTube page.

This online series will feature leading scientists, attorneys, writers, community leaders, activists, and artists. Some of the lectures will do the important work of explaining the current state of human rights and climate change—how did we get here and what is happening around the world? Others will be forward-looking and invite listeners to imagine a future in which we have made the great turning toward climate justice for all living beings. Other lectures may focus on a place—the fracking fields next to schools and neighborhoods, Standing Rock, deep sea drilling sites. Together, the lectures will create a chorus of voices and ideas that will invite audiences to imagine how we can build communities and lives in a world where environmental crises are quickly recognized as human rights crises.

We will release a new Bedrock Lecture each Wednesday from January 31 to May 30, 2018. The lectures will be free and publicly available on our website, social media channels, and at a weekly live-screening (details below). Each lecture will span about 20 minutes, and we invite you to watch them from your desk, with a group of friends, or at a community gathering.


(https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/bedrock-lectures-human-rights-and-climate-change

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Sahara desert is expanding thanks to climate change


Earth’s largest hot desert, the Sahara, is getting bigger, a new study finds. It is advancing south into more tropical terrain in Sudan and Chad, turning green vegetation dry and soil once used for farming into barren ground in areas that can least afford to lose it.

Yet it is not just the spread of the Sahara that is frightening, the researchers say. It’s the timing: It is happening during the African summer, when there is usually more rain. But the precipitation has dried up, allowing the boundaries of the desert to expand.

“If you have a hurricane come suddenly, it gets all the attention from the government and communities galvanize,” said Sumant Nigam, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland and the senior author of the study. “The desert advance over a long period might capture many countries unawares. It’s not announced like a hurricane. It’s sort of creeping up on you.”

The study was published Thursday in the Journal of Climate. The authors said that although their research focused only on the Sahara, it suggests that climate changes also could be causing other hot deserts to expand — with potentially harsh economic and human consequences.

Deserts form in subtropical regions because of a global weather circulation called the Hadley cell. Warm air rises in the tropics near the equator, producing rain and thunderstorms. When the air hits the top of the atmosphere, it spreads north and south toward the poles. It does not sink back down until it is over the subtropics, but as it does, the air warms and dries out, creating deserts and other areas that are nearly devoid of rain. Read More

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Climate Change and Conflict: New Research for Defense, Diplomacy, and Development

Climate is unquestionably linked to armed conflict,” said Halvard Buhaug, a professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, at a recent Wilson Center event marking the end of the three-year Climate Anomalies and Violent Environments (CAVE) research project. But, he stresses that under a changing climate, exactly how and through what pathways is still a subject of much debate in the academic community.

At the same time, practitioners working in fragile states need concrete guidance in order to prevent conflict and improve adaptation. “Conflict is an important cause of vulnerability to climatic changes,” said Buhaug. “Conflict mitigation…is probably the most important thing we can do to reduce environmental vulnerability.”

Climate Linked to Conflict Through Multiple Pathways

Climatic changes can increase the risk of conflict under certain conditions and through certain causal pathways, said Buhaug, citing some common drivers: a history of violence, low levels of development, poor governance, and inequality. In addition, the evidence shows that “climatic changes can affect the dynamics of conflict,” including the conflict’s duration, severity, and likelihood of ending quickly. But there is much less consensus that such changes could cause an outbreak of armed conflict. Read More

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bomb Cyclones, Nor’easters, and the Messy Relationship Between Weather and Climate


After three frigid nor’easters in less than two weeks, even the most devout prophet of climate change could be forgiven for echoing the sentiment that President Trump tweeted a few months ago, to much ridicule, shortly before one of the coldest New Year’s Eves on record: “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” By this point, most people outside the White House understand that climate is not the same as weather—that climate is the forest and weather is the trees. Yet the global climate system is enormously complex, and there is, in fact, a lively scientific debate in progress about the relationship between human-caused climate change (especially in the Arctic) and the increased frequency of extreme cold-weather events across the United States—blizzards, bomb cyclones, and the dreaded wintry mix.

The debate began in late 2011, at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union, when an atmospheric scientist named Jennifer Francis gave a talk that electrified her colleagues. Perhaps, she suggested, the persistent outbreaks of extreme weather that people were experiencing in the Northern Hemisphere were connected to the colossal loss of sea ice in the Arctic—a region that, with increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, has warmed at double the rate of the rest of the planet. Up until that moment, while scientists knew that the Arctic was changing rapidly—since the nineteen-seventies, sea ice, snow cover, and glaciers had all declined dramatically, and the permafrost was starting to thaw—they did not think it had an influence on weather systems in the midlatitudes. Credit for that went entirely to the tropics. Read More

Monday, March 5, 2018

New study finds sea level rise accelerating

February 13 2018 - The rate of global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.

This acceleration, driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100 when compared to projections that assume a constant rate of sea level rise, according to lead author Steve Nerem. Nerem is a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, a fellow at Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and a member of NASA's Sea Level Change team.

Global sea level rise is accelerating incrementally over time rather than increasing at a steady rate, as previously thought, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.

If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 — enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities, according to the new assessment by Nerem and colleagues from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; CU Boulder; the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. The team, driven to understand and better predict Earth's response to a warming world, published their work Feb. 12 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is almost certainly a conservative estimate," Nerem said. "Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that's not likely."

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere increase the temperature of air and water, which causes sea level to rise in two ways. First, warmer water expands, and this "thermal expansion" of the ocean has contributed about half of the 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) of global mean sea level rise we've seen over the last 25 years, Nerem said. Second, melting land ice flows into the ocean, also increasing sea level across the globe. Read More