Dam projects by neighbouring states are drastically reducing the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates and helping to turn a once-fertile plain into desert. Phil Sands and Nizar Latif report as an environmental crisis deepens
A FEW MONTHS AGO at a gathering of activist friends someone asked, “If our world is really looking down the barrel of environmental catastrophe, how do I live my life right now?”
The question stuck with me for a few reasons. The first is that it’s the world, not our world. The notion that the world belongs to us—instead of us belonging to the world—is a good part of the problem.
The second is that this is pretty much the only question that’s asked in mainstream media (and even among some environmentalists) about the state of the world and our response to it. The phrase “green living” brings up 7,250,000 Google hits, or more than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards combined (or, to look at it another way, more than a thousand times more than the crucial environmental philosophers John A. Livingston and Neil Evernden combined). If you click on the websites that come up, you find just what you’d expect, stuff like “The Green Guide: Shop, Save, Conserve,” “Personal Solutions for All of Us,” and “Tissue Paper Guide for Consumers.”
The third and most important reason the question stuck with me is that it’s precisely the wrong question. By looking at how it’s the wrong question, we can start looking for some of the right questions. This is terribly important, because coming up with right answers to wrong questions isn’t particularly helpful. More…
…some people believe libertarians and other conservatives have punted on climate change simply because they’re in bed with the fossil fuel companies—that they’ve taken lots of money from dirty energy and now do the bidding of their masters. This is undoubtedly true of plenty of individual politicians, but one hopes—fervently—that it isn’t true of the millions of thoughtful people and groups that need to be a part of a crucial debate. …
“For the world’s bottom billion, the financial crisis is having an effect on their ability to access food. Now add in the increased cost of food, and it’s a double whammy that is dangerous and destabilizing and a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions,”…
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, told reporters Monday it is important that leaders of the Group of Eight, G8 and nine other nations at the Major Economies Forum in Italy recognized that the global average temperature should not increase by more than two degrees Celsius, an “aspirational goal” which they had not agreed on or discussed earlier.
But, he said, they disregarded the IPCC’s findings that emissions will have to peak in 2015 and then rapidly decline to avert the worst consequences of global warming….
Over the past few years, green funerals have been a hot topic in eco-conscious circles. Thanks in part to a particularly memorable (and widely discussed) funeral scene from HBO’s Six Feet Under, conversations about green burials, biodegradable caskets, and natural cemeteries often seem less morbid than they do practical.
The Walrus reports on a new technique that may, it seems, be the greenest of them all.
Government officials held a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the third report of the United States Global Change Research Program.
Some Key findings include:
* Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow. Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.
* Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged. Agriculture is considered one of the sectors most adaptable to changes in climate. However, increased heat, pests, water stress, diseases, and weather extremes will pose adaptation challenges for crop and livestock production.
* Threats to human health will increase. Health impacts of climate change are related to heat stress, waterborne diseases, poor air quality, extreme weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects and rodents. Robust public health infrastructure can reduce the potential for negative impacts.
Of course, people who haven’t read it, or don’t understand the science, or don’t want to understand, will pooh-pooh the whole thing. All sorts of experts who aren’t climate scientists will chime in. Fox News will have a field day dragging up unemployed experts to refute it. And the beat goes on… (This, by the way, is the same outfit that issued the report that Bush withheld a few years back.)
“There have been people practicing microfinance in California for years,” Weaver told me. “And maybe there is not a lot of awareness that it is happening here.”…
…Turns out microfinance is big in the United States, though not as big as Weaver and many others would like it to be. Opportunity Fund says there are at least 20 million U.S. microbusinesses, which generally means businesses employing fewer than five that borrowed less than $35,000 — often much less — to start up….
“We have been ignoring the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” This was the message – or maybe confession – spelled out in a report launched by doctors and climatologists in London on Wednesday morning.