Category Archives: Sundries

Posts on sundry matters of life the universe and everything: Culture, Environment, Life, Politics & Government, Science, Social Science and Society, Technology etc.

Climate clippings 6

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Clouds and climate sensitivity

Climate sensitivity is the temperature increase caused by a doubling of the trace gas CO2 in the atmosphere. The IPCC AR4 gave this as between 2 and 4.5 °C for short term “Charney” feedbacks, which is a large uncertainty range for such an important number. Clouds are largely to blame.

Recent research indicates less cloud cover as the sea surface warms. Thus uncertainty is taken away from the low side. Continue reading Climate clippings 6

Climate kills

According to Oxfam 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of 2010 – more than twice the number (10,000) for the whole of 2009. Their information comes from reinsurance company Munich Re.

The number of extreme weather events was 725 to September, as against 850 for 2009. The number of extreme events is likely to exceed the ten-year average of 770, but not by a large margin. This year included some particularly serious ones, such as the floods in Pakistan and the heatwave in Russia.

The Pakistan floods affected more than 20 million people, submerging about a fifth of the country, claiming 2,000 lives and causing $9.7 billion in damage. Summer temperatures in Russia exceeded the long-term average by 7.8°C, doubling the daily death rate in Moscow to 700 and causing fires that destroyed 26 per cent of the country’s wheat crop. Russia banned grain exports as a result and soon after world grain prices increased, affecting poor people particularly.

Statistics relating to extreme weather events are tricky. The number of deaths obviously relates to the severity of the individual events and how many people were living in areas where the events occurred and hence vulnerable. Continue reading Climate kills

Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth


Back in April 17-19 this year Bolivia organised a World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in a university town on the outskirts of Cochabamba. I bring it up now because it was a radical reaction to Copenhagen in an effort to set a new agenda for Cancún, which will commence on November 29. Bolivia was acting on behalf of the ALBA countries (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). ALBA has a membership of six countries with a population a bit larger than three times ours and a combined GDP about half ours.

Some island states react to climate change out of a threat of sea level change and inundation. Naomi Klein points out that Bolivia has it’s own existential crisis because “its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities.”

The Council of Canadians tells us in their report that some 10,000 of the 34,000 participants came from outside South America. Government representatives from 147 countries were present, and at least 45 were active participants.

It seems clear that the conference outcomes were designed into the structure of the 17 working groups. The main formal outcome was a Peoples agreement. Here are a few extracts to give you the flavour: Continue reading Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth

What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?

One of the most depressing articles I’ve read in a while is Borneo’s majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia recently in The Guardian. This comes on top TV programs on of what seem like futile attempts to save the Orangutan. Wikipedia tells us:

The total number of Bornean orangutans is estimated to be less than 14 percent of what it was in the recent past (from around 10,000 years ago until the middle of the twentieth century) and this sharp decline has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development.

The IPCC AR4 report put the net emissions from forestry at 17.4% of the total:

Continue reading What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?