If you’ve being reading up on global warming’s effect on global conflict (and you should be), you know that seemingly minor temperature changes can have an enormous impact on heating up global tensions. But climate change is not only causing violent conflict over lack of usable land and food, it’s also causing a new type of global refugee to form — the “climate refugee”.
Global warming is causing a rise in sea levels, and according to the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change), sea levels rose between 9 and 20 cm over the last century. As reported by BBC News, scientists predict further increases of 9 to 88 cm by the year 2100. For some of us, this may seem like a minimal height change over a hundred year period, but for coastal regions, this rise could mean the difference between having a home and watching your home flooded with water and washed out to sea.
The crabs are gearing up for a takeover. Not of humans, thankfully, but of other species in the Antarctic Peninsula. Which could lead to serious consequences.
While crabs and other swift predators were once stymied by the Arctic Ocean’s cold temperatures, millions of years of climate change have heated the waters, giving them an open door to make their way back.
As scientists explain it, crabs aren’t able to handle the high levels of magnesium that build up in their bloodstream while traversing cold water. Too much magnesium in the system causes them to pass out and pass away. On the other hand, those species that aren’t affected by the excessive amounts have been able to travel freely. But as the temperatures warm, crab populations have been able to move into more shallow areas, threatening the lives of such magnesium-immune dwellers as ribbon worms and sea stars.
We’re all aware of the crisis in global fisheries. Some of us may even know the details — that a third of the world’s fishing stocks have already collapsed, and that if this trend continues we’d be looking down the barrel of total collapse within fifty years.
But sometimes it takes an event a little closer to home to bring the message home.
For Angelenos, it doesn’t get much closer than the California coastline, where last fall only “about 90,000 adult chinook returned to the Central Valley the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery”. This compared with 775,000 salmon in 2002. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in Seattle this week, where they’ll vote to impose a total ban or “the most severe restrictions” on salmon fishing ever seen along the Oregon and California coastlines.
Supermodels have come a long way since Linda Evangelista famously said she wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. From the old guard, some went on to host TV shows (Tyra, Heidi), others married movie stars (Christy, Cindy), others became embroiled in cocaine scandals (Kate), while others continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons (Naomi). But hey, at least they were colorful. In comparison, the new breed, lead by Gisele Bünchen seem, well, boring.
That is, with one notable exception. Liya Kebede shows us that real beauty comes from the heart.
(Looking back at 2006 when George Clooney and his father, traveled to Sudan to see for themselves what was happening)
George Clooney has been speaking out in Washington to urge aid for the Darfur Crisis. George along with his dad Nick Clooney smuggled cameras into the Darfur refugee camps in April 2006 for five days to report on the genocide first hand. Over 200,000 have been killed and over 2 million have fled their homes since 2003.
Yesterday, George Clooney addressed the U.N. Security Council to urge them to send peacemakers to Sudan’s Darfur Region to prevent genocide. Clooney warned them if they did not, millions will die in what he called the first genocide of the 21st century.
Clooney told the council members, “It’s not getting better. It’s getting much, much worse.
And it is only the international community that can help us. Now, I know there are members of you here that, for what I’m sure are sensible reasons, have failed to use leverage at times to keep the — to get the peacekeepers on the ground. Well, we now have a date. The date is September 30. The 1st of October will leave these people with nothing. Whatever the reason, it’s not good enough. On October 1, it won’t just be the Janjaweed murdering and raping with impunity or Minnawi’s SLA slaughtering the Fur tribes.
Everyone in Hollywood knows that a movie needs a good tag line in order to hook viewers. As for the true story of self-absorbed conceptual artist Vanessa Beecroft and her long suffering lawyer/art dealer/entertainment consultant/Warner Bros. executive husband Greg Durkin, in the aftermath of her botched adoption attempt of Sudanese twins, I think the L.A. Times came up with a good one: “Beecroft traveled to Sudan, fell in love with a pair of motherless babies there and labored, in the presence of a documentarian’s camera, to adopt them — without consulting her husband”.
I’d certainly call that an attention grabber.
The entire event is chronicled in “The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins” — a documentary directed by New Zealand filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly, which screened at this year’s Sundance film festival. The near adoption tale begins with Beecroft, herself a mother of two, traveling to Sudan out of concern about the genocide. After developing mastitis on the plane, she offers her milk to some orphaned Sudanese newborns. It’s there that Beecroft meets the twins, Madit and Mangor Akot Makoi, and it’s love at first sight.
The UN Report on climate change released last month – just in time for the Bali Conference – provides more details about the threat of a warming climate. The report synthesizes 3 reports released earlier in the year, cross referencing various data that would not otherwise be linked. In short, this is the seminal, holistic document on climate change. And the prognosis is poor.
One big problem is that the computer models showing the effect of melting ice sheets cannot compute numbers that are actually being measured on the ground. Originally data showed that the earth could warm by 1 to 4 degrees by the end of the century. Data crunching from recent numbers estimates that global temperature could rise by as much as 6 degrees by 2030, resulting in catastrophic sea level rise.
Many of the green-leaning blogs are excited about the new energy bill because it incorporates several somewhat progressive policies. The House of Representatives is exclaiming its virtues, while the Senate continues to make legislative sausage with the bill.
But what does it really mean?
Fuel Efficiency. One of the key features of the bill is the increase in fuel efficiency standards from 27 mpg (today) to 35 mpg by 2020. The problems are twofold. First: “standards” do not imply enforcement; the government won’t shut down GM if they don’t respond. Second: fuel efficiency applies only to passenger cars – not to the ubiquitous SUVs, because of a longstanding loophole exempting vehicles with a truck chassis. Current “light truck” efficiency stands at 20 mpg.
It’s a fact that humans need about 100,000 gallons of water per person / per year to survive. But that number is easily outstripped by our various collateral activities. Maintaining nice lawns, using water for motorized recreation, creating extravagant water shows – even over-running the tap while brushing our teeth – has thrown the sustainability loop well out of orbit – especially when these activities happen in a desert environment.
It’s no secret that many of the large cities in the Southwestern U.S. wouldn’t be around without significant human engineering and its accompanying environmental impact. Mark Reisner’s Cadillac Desert follows the transformation of the American West in detail, decrying the loss of important habitat for farming and wildlife, geographic beauty, and archaeological records of the area’s first inhabitants. Cadillac is a sad, yet important story because so many inhabitants of the Southwest take their water for granted, not for the scarce commodity it truly is.