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Vice President Biden was in Warsaw last week to reassure our eastern NATO allies that they have the support of a “steadfast ally.” But if Russia moved against Poland or the Baltic States, would the United States really go to war? Or would we do nothing and effectively destroy the NATO alliance?
President Obama has ruled out a “military excursion” in Ukraine. America is not obligated legally to take action against Russia for annexing Crimea. We would not go to war if Russia mounted a large-scale invasion of Ukraine to restore the ousted, pro-Moscow government of Viktor Yanukovych, currently under U.S. sanctions. And we would not even send troops if Ukraine was partitioned, or absorbed by Russia. Americans have no interest in such a conflict, and no stomach for it.
NATO allies are a different matter. The North Atlantic Treaty is a mutual-defense pact, and Article 5 says that an armed attack against one member state “shall be considered an attack against them all.” This is a clear red line. The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and most NATO allies sent troops to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Could the current crisis expand to touch NATO? The developing situation in Ukraine has been compared to Germany’s absorption of Austria in 1938, or the subsequent partition and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Hillary Clinton compared Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, which by extension puts President Obama in the role of British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who famously failed to achieve “peace in our time” at Munich.
Push the analogy further. The Second World War was sparked by Warsaw’s resistance to Berlin’s demand to annex the Polish Corridor, a small stretch of land—smaller than Crimea—separating the German provinces of Pomerania and East Prussia. Hitler responded by invading Poland and partitioning it with the Soviet Union. Britain and France had pledged to defend Polish independence, and two days after Germany invaded, they declared war. In his war message, Chamberlain explained that Hitler’s actions showed “there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force.”
This may or may not describe Mr. Putin, as Mrs. Clinton alleged. But if similar circumstances arise in the near future, will the United States honor security guarantees made to Poland and the Baltic States when the Russian threat was only a theory?
Mr. Biden stood with Estonian president Toomas Ilves Tuesday to “reconfirm and reaffirm our shared commitment to collective self-defense, to Article 5.” He wanted to make it “absolutely clear what it means to the Estonian people” and that “President Obama and I view Article 5 of the NATO Treaty as an absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor—we will honor.” Shortly thereafter, Moscow “expressed concern” about the treatment of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Mr. Putin justified his actions in Crimea as “restoring unity” to Russian people. Estonia’s population is 25 percent ethnic Russian, compared to 17 percent in Ukraine, mostly in the north and east part of the country. Suppose anti-Russian riots “spontaneously” broke out in Estonia. What would the United States do if Moscow invoked a “responsibility to protect” these people and bring them “back” to the Motherland? Would President Obama take military action against Russia over a small, secluded piece of a tiny, distant country? Would it be like the Polish Corridor in 1939? This is highly doubtful—highly doubtful.
Aren’t we obligated by treaty to intervene? Mr. Biden mentioned the “absolutely solemn commitment which we will honor.” It was so important he said it twice. However, Article 5 says that NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of the attacked state using “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” It doesn’t take a White House lawyer to see the gaping loophole—President Obama can simply deem that the use of U.S. force isn’t necessary. He can walk back the red line, as he did with Syria. Stern talk and minimal sanctions would follow, but Estonia would lose some, if not all of its territory. And in practical terms it would mean the end of NATO, which is one of Moscow’s longstanding strategic objectives. Mr. Putin’s chess game does not end in Crimea.
James S. Robbins is Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC.
Guide Claims Warsaw COP19 Climate Talks Were Captured By Corporate Fossil Fuel Interests | DeSmogBlog
THERE were two logos on the grey felt conference bags offered to delegates at the recent COP19 United Nations climate change negotiations in Warsaw.
One was the official COP19 logo, embroidered onto the flap of the document bag inside which negotiators, observers and UN staff could carry around the draft texts which were supposed to pave the way for a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.
Nestled unashamedly and proudly alongside this COP19 logo was the official mark of the Lotos Group – an oil and gas company majority owned by the Polish Government.
The juxtaposition was emblematic of the talks in Warsaw, which some observers described as the most “corporate captured yet” of any of the United Nations climate talks since the first “Conference of Parties” was convened in Berlin, Germany, in 1995.
Alongside LOTOS Group, other major corporate sponsors of COP19 included fossil fuel energy giant Alstom Power – delegates were greeted with that company’s logo whenever they took a drink from the free water coolers scattered around Poland’s National Stadium, the venue for the talks.
The main negotiating rooms and plenary rooms were elaborately constructed canvas and steel marquees on the stadium’s playing surface and were provided with cash from another sponsor, ArcelorMittal, which lays claim to be the “world’s leading steel and mining company.”
Seats and coffee tables came from Dubai’s government-owned airline Emirates. Pen sets and organic notebooks? Thanks go to Polska Grupa Energetyczna — operator of more than 40 coal power stations, including the coal-fired Bełchatów Power Plant — one of the biggest fossil power plants on the planet.
As if rubbing the delegates’ faces in fossil fuels wasn’t enough, the Polish government, as official hosts and organisers of the COP19 talks, also hosted a two-day international “clean coal” conference in the same city at the start of the second week of the climate talks. It was this move which many of the hundreds of environment and civil society group members voiced as a catalyst for their decision to stage an unprecedented walkout from the talks with a day of negotiations left to go.
Iain Keith, a senior campaigner at Avaaz.org, told DeSmogBlog at the talksthat “inviting coal to be the voice of business” at the Warsaw talks had been a “a terrible choice” and had “created a huge amount of bad will.”
In a guide released during the talks, research groups Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute rebranded the event the “Conference of Polluters” and documented the full extent of the corporate involvement at COP19. The report said:
Big business, industry and finance, keen to set the agenda and shape the rules in the interests of their profits – and at the expense of climate justice – have infiltrated COP19.
Corporate capture on the scale that is exhibited at COP19 runs the risk of rendering the UN climate negotiations not merely ineffective, but counterproductive to tackling climate change.
It is time for the UN and the international community to open its eyes to corporate spin and powerful vested interests, and work towards real alternatives that embody the principles of social, environmental and climate justice.
The report – COP19 Guide to Corporate Lobbying: Climate crooks and the Polish government’s partners in crime – also details some of the lobbying and industry organisations that are currently registered to attend the series of COP talks, including COP19.
These include the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, the World Coal Association, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association and the International Chamber of Commerce.
The report is also critical of groups such as the Carbon Markets and Investors Association and the International Emissions Trading Association, which in advocating for expansion of carbon markets and emissions trading the report says are part of a “false solution.”
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Pascoe Sabido, of CEO and a co-author of the report, said: “These organisations are here on the inside and they have their logos plastered all over this conference centre. They are able to wrap themselves in the colours of the UN and claim – wrongly of course – to be climate champions, and that’s incredibly damaging.”
Three things you shouldn’t miss this week
- ‘Greenest government ever’ or ‘green crap’: which way will David Cameron jump? – A tug of war between the Treasury and the Prime Minister, andthe autumn statement will reveal which side is winning.
- As the Warsaw climate talks end, the hard work is just beginning – Delegates have been packed off and their homework is to prepare their country’s emission reduction plan by early 2015
- Methane emissions in US probably top estimates: study – US emissions of methane – a greenhouse gas – are probably 50 percent higher than current estimates show, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
|Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon region has risen 28 percent over the past year, the country’s environment minister says.
Making the announcement in the capital Brasilia on Thursday, Izabella Teixeira said she was calling an emergency meeting to try to remedy the situation.
“We confirm a 28 percent increase in the rate of deforestation, reaching 5,843sq km,” she said quoting provisional statistics for August 2012 through July this year.
Extensive farming and soya-bean production in the northern state of Para and the central-western state of Mato Grosso were key factors behind the rise, Teixeira said, citing increases for the two states of 37 and 52 percent respectively.
Teixeira said she would meet Amazon regional environment secretaries of state next week to demand explanations and measures to deal with the situation on her return from a UN climate change summit in Warsaw.
Teixeira also criticised the apparent ineffectiveness of monitoring by federal state authorities.
“The Brazilian government does not tolerate and does not accept any rise in illegal deforestation,” she said, insisting that the country was firmly committed to drastically reducing deforestation.
Although large in percentage terms, the rise in absolute terms is the second smallest in recent years as 2012 saw 4,571sq km of deforestation, following an even more disturbing 6,418sq km in 2011.
The worst year on record was 2004, when 27,000sq km of forest was lost.
Environmentalists blame the increase on a loosening of Brazil’s environmental laws. They also say that the government’s push for big infrastructure projects like dams, roads and railways is pushing deforestation.
Paulo Adario, coordinator of Greenpeace’s Amazon campaign, said it was scandalous that there was such an increase in the destruction.
“The government can’t be surprised by this increase in deforestation, given that their own action is what’s pushing it,” he said.
“The change in the Forest Code and the resulting amnesty for those who illegally felled the forest sent the message that such crimes have no consequences.”
Brazil, a major global agricultural producer, is caught between environmental pressures and the interests of large-scale farmers.
The country’s forestry code requires landowners in the Amazon to devote 80 percent to native forests. But enforcement has been lax.
The annual United Nations climate conference, known as the 19th Conference of the Parties or COP 19, is underway in Warsaw with considerably less fanfare than years past. Expectations for this one are even lower than usual, after the disappointments and plodding progress of the last few conferences.
World leaders are backing away from the 2015 target for a global climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, and the news for people concerned about climate change has not been encouraging.
It’s a situation former Irish president Mary Robinson finds profoundly worrying. She now runs the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and she has a blunt and rather inconvenient message for global leaders and fossil fuel-producing countries like Canada: If you’re serious about preventing the worst of climate change, you have to leave that bitumen, oil and gas in the ground.
Last year marked another record year for global greenhouse gas emissions. And a recent report from the UK found fossil fuel subsidies around the world added up to about $500 billion in 2011 – on the order of five times the amount of subsidies doled out to renewable energy.
The prospect of keeping the global rise in temperature below two degrees Celsius looks highly unlikely if current trends persist. And Canada, for its part, is not on track to meet its own commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Robinson’s message about reducing oil and gas production is one that would seem to be a tough sell in a country whose economic strategy is largely built around fossil fuel exports.
‘Moving to a low-carbon economy would be very good for Canadians’ futures, and for everyone’s future. And as well as that, we don’t have a choice. We’re running out of time.’– Mary Robinson, former Irish president
“We need two messages,” Robinson told The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright. “Moving to a low-carbon economy would be very good for Canadians’ futures, and for everyone’s future. And as well as that, we don’t have a choice. We’re running out of time.
“How can Canadians not see that their grandchildren will share the world with nine billion other people (by 2050)? And I have no certainty at all that it will be a livable world.”
Robinson adds that she fears it will be, “a world of catastrophes over and over again. The 200 million people who may be climate-displaced – where are they going to go? There will be no country that will be immune to this. If [the planet] becomes too dangerous, it will be too dangerous for Canadians, for the children and grandchildren of those alive today.”
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Robinson served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002, and she approaches climate change as a human rights and justice issue.
She argues that in the developing world, climate change impinges on the most fundamental human rights to food, water and life itself.
“Canada is one of the countries that has benefited from fossil fuel growth and has a responsibility to give leadership. And the whole of Africa is responsible for about the same level of emissions, but African countries are suffering hugely in their food security and long periods of drought and flooding. There is an injustice in how climate is impacting them.
“Canada has been a country proud of its development record. It gives a lot of development aid. Well, all that development aid will be wiped out by terrible climate impacts.”
Robinson plans to be a vocal presence in Warsaw. She has no great hopes for a breakthrough on a global climate pact by the time the conference closes next Friday, but she remains optimistic that the global community will respond to the challenge before it’s too late.
“We’re not, I think, a stupid race. I know that political timescales can be very short. But I believe that these next two years – 2014, we have to change course, and 2015, when we need sustainable development goals and a robust, fair climate agreement – we can still do it.
“We need a forward-looking leadership, and that won’t come from Canadian politicians unless it comes from the Canadian people.”
[Listen to Michael Enright’s full conversation with Mary Robinson on The Sunday Edition this weekend, just after the 9 am news, or on theSunday Edition website.]
Among extremes have been super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense storms in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday.
President Benigno Aquino said local officials had overstated the loss of life, which was closer to 2,000 or 2,500 than the 10,000 previously estimated. His comments, however, drew scepticism from some aid workers.
Other extremes this year have included record heatwaves in Australia and floods from Sudan to Europe, the WMO said. Japan had its warmest summer on record.
Apparently bucking a warming trend, sea ice around Antarctica expanded to a record extent. But the WMO said: “Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold.”
In September, The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the probability that mankind was the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90 in a previous assessment in 2007.
It predicted impacts including more heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.
“2010 was the warmest year on record, ahead of 2005 and 1998,” the WMO said.
The IPCC said the pace of temperature rises at the Earth’s surface has slowed slightly in recent years in what the panel called a “hiatus” that may be linked to big natural variations and factors such as the ocean absorbing more heat.
The WMO said that individual tropical cyclones, such as Haiyan, could not be directly attributed to the effects of climate change.
But “higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” Jarraud said. Seas have risen by about 20 cms (8 inches) in the past century.
As of early November 2013, there had been 86 tropical cyclones, from typhoons to Atlantic hurricanes, closing in on the 1981-2010 average of 89 storms, the WMO said. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Ralph Boulton)
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Sweet Snorkeling Pics
As humans increase atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, oceans absorb some of the CO2. The resulting drop in ocean pH, known as ocean acidification, has been called climate change’s “equally evil twin” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco. Coral reefs, which are an invaluable part of marine ecosystems and tourism economies, are threatened by ocean warming and acidification. At the 2012 International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia, 2,600 scientists signed a petition calling for international action to preserve global coral reefs, reported the BBC. Noting that 25 to 30 percent of the world’s reefs are already “severely degraded,” the statement asserts that “climate-related stressors [represent] an unprecedented challenge for the future of coral reefs and to the services they provide to people.” A recent report from the World Resources Institute found that the Coral Triangle, an important area from central Southeast Asia to the edge of the western Pacific with many reefs, is threatened at a rate far greater than the global average.
Wine Tasting Parties
Winegrowers in France’s Champagne region and scientists have already seen changes in the past 25 years, reported The New York Times last year. They have “noted major changes in their vineyards, including an increased sugar content in the grapes from which they make their wine, with a consequent decrease in acidity, and a harvest time that regularly comes two weeks earlier than it once did.” Last year, the Telegraph reported that Bordeaux, one of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions, may be “unsuitable for wine-growing by 2050.” Yale Environment 360 explains that many European wines are tied to a specific geographical area, creating a problem for regions which may soon find themselves most suited to a new kind of grape. In the U.S., researchers at Stanford University found that climate change could mean “50% less land suitable for cultivating premium wine grapes in high-value areas of Northern California.” A 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “up to 81 percent” of “premium-wine-grape production area” could decline in the U.S. by the end of this century, reported Wired. Without any adaptation measures, wine-grape production could disappear from “many areas” of the country. Wired notes, “By the law of supply and demand, that suggests the best wines of tomorrow will cost even more than the ridiculous amounts they fetch today.”
Winnie The Pooh’s Key Plot Point
<a href=”http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/Hone/Hone-03-30-2012.pdf” target=”_hplink”>According to the USDA, bee populations are dropping nationwide</a>. Wetter winters and rainy summers make it harder for bees to get out and about to collect, leaving them to starve or become malnourished and more prone to other diseases. This doesn’t just mean a decline in honey. We rely on bees to pollinate crops. When bees disappear, many food crops could also die off.
Spring Break, Wohoo!
As global temperatures rise this century, sea levels are also expected to increase. South Florida may be hit particularly hard. If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, global sea levels could rise over three feet by 2100, with a six foot rise possible. The U.S. Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming notes:
This threatens to submerge Florida’s coastal communities and economies since roughly 9 percent of the state is within 5 feet of the existing sea level. Rising sea level also threatens the beaches, wetlands, and mangrove forests that surround the state.
University of Florida professor Jack Putz said in 2008, “People have a hard time accepting that this is happening here,” reported the Tampa Bay Times. Seeing dead palm trees and other impacts “brings a global problem right into our own back yard,” he added. Click here to see a map showing what different levels of sea level rise would look like for Florida and other states.
Cute Baby Polar Bear Videos
A November 2011 study found that polar bear litters are getting smaller as climate change causes sea ice decline. <a href=”http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2011/WWFPresitem19837.html” target=”_hplink”>According to World Wildlife Fund</a>, the study “found that if spring sea ice break-up occurs one month earlier than usual, 40-73 percent of pregnant females could fail to bring cubs to term.” The National Snow and Ice Data Center found that in 2010, <a href=”http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49132&src=share” target=”_hplink”>Arctic sea ice</a> was at its lowest January level in 30 years. With decreased sea ice, polar bears may have greater trouble finding food sources. This could lead to cannibalism, which has already been observed by photographers. Environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16081214″ target=”_hplink”>told BBC News</a> in 2011, “There are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.”
Thanks to a failing peanut crop due to last summer’s scorching hot weather, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/peanut-butter-price-jump_n_1003732.html” target=”_hplink”>there was a shortage of peanuts in supply</a> at the end of 2011. If temperatures continue to rise, a jump in peanut butter prices is just the prelude to what could be in store for the beloved spread.
<a href=”http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/Newsroom/Documents/ghana_ivory_coast_climate_change_and_cocoa.pdf” target=”_hplink”>A report released by the International Center For Tropical Agriculture </a>warns chocolate could become a luxury item if farmers don’t adapt to rising temperatures in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where a majority of the world’s cocoa is grown. The October 2011 report, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “calls for increased research into heat and drought resistant crops, and to help transition cocoa farming to new regions that will be suitable for production in the future,” <a href=”http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/09/30/332951/chocolate-climate-change-cocoa-industry-study/” target=”_hplink”>reported ThinkProgress</a>.
‘Friday Night Lights’ & ‘Varsity Blues’
As average temperatures rise over the course of this century, states in the Southern U.S. are expected to see a greater number of days with temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit each year. Hotter temperatures will mean that football players in the South will face a greater risk of hyperthermia, explains GE’s TXCHNOLOGIST blog. ThinkProgress suggests, “Indeed, it is the conservative southern U.S., especially the South central and South east, who have led the way in blocking serious climate action, as it were, making yesterday’s worst-case scenario into today’s likely outcome.”
Bad news for allergy sufferers — climate change, and specifically warmer temperatures, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/31/seasonal-allergies-rising_n_913650.html” target=”_hplink”>may bring more pollen and ragweed</a>, according to a <a href=”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21259264″ target=”_hplink”>2011 study</a> from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Along with allergies, a changing climate may be tied to more infectious diseases. <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/17/flu-pandemic-climate-pattern-la-nina_n_1211480.html” target=”_hplink”>According to one study</a>, climate change could affect wild bird migratory patterns, increasing the chances for human flu pandemics. Illnesses like <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/global-warming-lyme-disease-west-nile_n_1400692.html” target=”_hplink”>Lyme disease could also become more prominent</a>.
Famed for producing some of the world’s best beer, <a href=”http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080502/full/news.2008.799.html” target=”_hplink”>Germany could suffer from a drop in production due to climate change-induced water shortages</a>. Barley and hops can only be grown with water, and using cheaper alternatives like corn isn’t possible in Germany because of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot” target=”_hplink”>strict regulations</a> about what you can make beer with. Research published earlier this year in the journal <a href=”http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n7/full/nclimate1491.html” target=”_hplink”><em>Nature Climate Change</em></a> found that “unless farmers develop more heat-tolerant corn varieties or gradually move corn production from the United States into Canada, frequent heat waves will cause sharp price spikes,” <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/business/climate-change-effect-seen-for-corn-prices.html” target=”_hplink”>reported <em>The New York Times</em></a>. Price spikes for U.S. corn could affect prices of <a href=”http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/38/” target=”_hplink”>American macrobrews</a> made with an <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjuncts” target=”_hplink”>adjunct ingredient like corn</a>.
Valentine’s Day Cliches
With higher temperatures expected in northern latitudes in coming decades, the U.K. has begun a program to develop strawberries that will survive in higher temperatures with less water. Since chocolate also may be threatened, could sexy chocolate-covered strawberries, a Valentine’s Day staple, be endangered? <a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8603607/Climate-change-resistant-strawberries.html” target=”_hplink”>According to <em>The Telegraph</em></a>, Dr. David Simpson, a scientist with England’s East Malling Research, said last year, “Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year on year since the early 1990s. The British growers have done a great job of increasing their productivity to satisfy this demand between April and October. The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides but the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future.”
Coffee lovers may want to get that caffeine fix before the treasured drink becomes a rare export. Starbucks raised the issue last year when the company’s director of sustainability told <em>The Guardian</em> that <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/16/starbucks-climate-change_n_1011222.html” target=”_hplink”>climate change is threatening the supply chain</a> for the Arabica coffee bean. Starbucks Sustainability Director <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/13/starbucks-coffee-climate-change-threat?newsfeed=true” target=”_hplink”>Jim Hanna told the paper</a>, “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.”
Water Out West
According to a 2011 U.S. Interior Department report, “annual flows in three prominent river basins – the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin – could decline by as much [as] 8 percent to 14 percent over the next four decades,” reported the Associated Press. Expected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to alter river flows “with increased flooding possible in the winter due to early snowmelt and water shortages in the summer due to reductions in spring and summer runoffs.” Mike Connor, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said, “Impacts to water are on the leading edge of global climate change.” Earlier this year, the Bureau of Reclamation asked the public to suggest ideas for meeting future water demand around the Colorado River basin.
Rudolph (And Donner And Blitzen)
Reindeer, also known as “caribou” in North America, could face a difficult future in a warmer climate. <a href=”http://www.usnews.com/news/energy/slideshows/10-animals-threatened-by-global-warming” target=”_hplink”>According to U.S. News & World Report</a>, “Russell Graham, associate professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum at Penn State University, says global warming will most harm the animals adapted to the coldest environments, primarily those accustomed to life in the Arctic.” A 2008 study found that caribou in West Greenland are “now arriving after peak foraging time, fewer calves are being born and more calves are dying,” <a href=”http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/341435/title/Animals_on_the_Move” target=”_hplink”>reported ScienceNews</a>.
Yummy Pancake Breakfasts
It may be a bit harder to drown your pancakes in maple syrup in the future, <a href=”http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/effects-global-warming-maple-syrup-production-20078.html” target=”_hplink”>studies suggest</a>. According to <a href=”http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov10/SyrupClimate.html” target=”_hplink”>a 2010 Cornell University study</a>, “maple syrup production in the Northeast is expected to slightly decline by 2100, and the window for tapping trees will move earlier by about a month.” Additionally, most maple syrup production south of Pennsylvania “will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing.” <a href=”http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/01/no-maple-syrup-2100″ target=”_hplink”>Click here to watch one farmer’s fight to save New Hampshire’s sugar maples.</a>
According to a <a href=”http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/ntrout.asp” target=”_hplink”>2002 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife</a>, a warming planet does not bode well for species that thrive in cold streams. The study found that “global warming is likely to spur the disappearance of trout and salmon from as much as 18 to 38 percent of their current habitat by the year 2090.” A 2011 study published in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academies of Science</em> produced “models [which] forecast significant declines in trout habitat across the interior western United States in the 21st century,” <a href=”http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/trout-fishing-in-a-climate-changed-america/” target=”_hplink”>reported <em>The New York Times</em></a>. The study claims, “The decline will have significant socioeconomic consequences as recreational trout fisheries are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States alone.”
NYC’s Waterfront Real Estate
According to a 2012 report from New Jersey-based nonprofit <a href=”http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/” target=”_hplink”>Climate Central</a>, thousands of New York City residents may be at risk for severe <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/rising-sea-levels-threate_n_1347333.html” target=”_hplink”>coastal flooding as a result of climate change</a>. <a href=”http://slr.s3.amazonaws.com/factsheets/New_York.pdf” target=”_hplink”>Climate Central explains</a>, “the NY metro area hosts the nation’s highest-density populations vulnerable to sea level rise.” They argue, “the funnel shape of New York Harbor has the potential to magnify storm surges already supplemented by sea level rise, threatening widespread areas of New York City.”
The Best Part Of July 4th
With droughts and wildfires hitting many parts of the U.S., municipalities from <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/colorado-wildfires-2012-f_n_1647571.html” target=”_hplink”>Colorado</a> to <a href=”http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2012/07/03/climate-change-is-totally-ruining-your-4th-of-july” target=”_hplink”>Tennessee</a> canceled July 4th public fireworks displays or banned personal fireworks this year, citing the fire hazards they posed. In June, a <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/climate-change-wildfires_n_1588741.html” target=”_hplink”>study published in the journal <em>Ecosphere</em></a> found that almost all of North America will see more wildfires by 2100, reported Reuters. The study’s lead author, Max Moritz, said, “In the long run, we found what most fear – increasing fire activity across large areas of the planet.”
The Non-.com Amazon
Along with deforestation, climate change also poses a serious threat to South America’s Amazon rainforest. A 2009 study from the U.K. Met Office found that a global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would cause 85 percent of the Amazon to die off in the next 100 years. Even a two degree Celsius rise would kill 20 to 40 percent of the rainforest, reported the Guardian. In May, The Club of Rome think tank predicted a global average temperatures rise of “2 degrees Celsius by 2052 and a 2.8 degree rise by 2080,” reported Reuters. Jorgen Randers, author of the club’s report, said, “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate-friendly solutions, and (we) must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind.” He added, “We are emitting twice as much greenhouse gases every year as are absorbed by the world’s forests and oceans. This overshoot will worsen and will peak in 2030.”
As global sea levels rise during the 21st century, low-lying island nations like the Maldives could see their very existence threatened. With a three to six foot sea level rise predicted by 2100, nations like the Maldives could become uninhabitable, explained The New York Times. Maldives’ former president, Mohamed Nasheed, has been a tireless campaigner for the urgent need for countries to take action against climate change, arguing “You can’t pick and choose on science.”
Although seasonal fluctuations occur and El Nino/La Nina weather patterns affect snowfall, global temperature rise may impact conditions for skiers and boarders. “The long-term trend is less snow and earlier snowmelt. This means more frustration for snow sport enthusiasts and a negative impact on the snow sports industry,” writes the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Theo Spencer. In May, a snow-less ski race was held in Aspen, Colorado to “highlight the effect climate change has on the outdoor recreation industry,” reported the Associated Press.
Thanksgiving Dinner Food Comas
A 2010 paper in the journal <em>Food Research International</em> found that climate change may one day affect the cost and quality of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, <a href=”http://news.discovery.com/earth/thanksgiving-climate-change.html” target=”_hplink”>reported Discovery News</a>. Future temperature rises could impact the quality of turkey meat. Additionally, foods like “pumpkins, sweet potatoes, potatoes, grains [and] green beans … will be sensitive to water shortages should they arise,” study author Neville Gregory told Discovery News. In fact, common Thanksgiving foods were <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/thanksgiving-dinner-battles-weather_n_1099899.html” target=”_hplink”>impacted by weather events in 2011</a>, with shortages and price spikes hitting over the holidays.
The Views On Your Alaska Vacation
Earlier this year, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that climate warming is killing southeast Alaska’s mighty yellow cedars. The study, published in the journal Bioscience, found that with decreasing snow cover, the trees’ shallow roots are more vulnerable to freezing, reported AP. Paul Schaberg, a U.S. Forest Service plant pathologist, said, “As time goes on and climates change even more, other species, other locations, are likely to experience similar kinds of progressions, so you might do well to understand this one so you can address those future things.”
“Lady & The Tramp”-Like Scenes
Scientists at the British Met Office warn that Italy may soon be forced to<a href=”http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/climate-threat-to-italys-pasta/story-e6frg6so-1225797946930″ target=”_hplink”> import the basic ingredients to make pasta because climate change will make it impossible to grow durum wheat domestically</a>. The crop could almost disappear from the country later this century, scientists say.
Home Sweet Home (For Kiribatians)
Along with the Maldives and other island nations, Kiribati is also threatened by climate change. Earlier this year, the president’s cabinet endorsed a plan to spend about $9.6 million for 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, reported AP. President Anote Tong told AP, “We would hope not to put everyone on one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it.” He added, “It wouldn’t be for me, personally, but would apply more to a younger generation. For them, moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.”
Super Duper Fast Wi-Fi Connection
A 2011 report from the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that climate change could affect certain infrastructure, like wireless internet. <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/09/climate-change-wi-fi-connections” target=”_hplink”>The <em>Guardian</em> reports</a>, “higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables,” according to secretary of state for the environment. The <em>Guardian</em> notes, “The government acknowledges that the impact of climate change on telecommunications is not well understood, but the report raises a series of potential risks.”
The Great Smoky Mountains’ Smoke
The Great Smoky Mountains have the most annual rainfall in the southeastern U.S., which mostly falls as a light, misty rain, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/28/great-smoky-mountains-climate-change_n_1461482.html” target=”_hplink”>explains OurAmazingPlanet</a>. A study by a team from NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions found that “light rainfall is the dominant form of precipitation in the region, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of a year’s total, governing the regional water cycle.” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/28/great-smoky-mountains-climate-change_n_1461482.html” target=”_hplink”>OurAmazingPlanet</a> notes: <blockquote>The results suggest the area may be more susceptible to climate change than thought; as temperatures rise, more of the fine droplets from light rain will evaporate in the air and fail to reach the ground. Lower elevations will have to contend with not only higher temperatures, but less cloud cover.</blockquote>
California Beach Bums
Along the California coast, beach communities are finding that it may be impossible to stop coastal erosion as global sea levels rise. According to AP, David Revell, a senior coastal scientist at ESA PWA, acknowledged the relentless power of the sea, saying, “I like to think of it as getting out of the way gracefully.” A report released in June by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that West Coast ocean levels will rise several inches in the next few decades. Sea levels along the California coast are expected to be six inches higher by 2030 and three feet higher by the end of the century. Despite the risks, another recent NRDC study found that California is one of several states with the best plans to deal with the effects of climate change.
Repeats Of The Titanic
2012 could be a record year for the extent of Arctic sea ice at its yearly summer minimum. Walt Meier, a research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, said that with recent satellite observations, “It definitely portends a low-ice year, whether it means it will go below 2007 (the record minimum in September), it is too early to tell,” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/arctic-sea-ice-levels_n_1605441.html” target=”_hplink”>reported LiveScience</a>. As sea ice declines in the Arctic, countries are anticipating a <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/arctic-climate-change-military-activity_n_1427565.html” target=”_hplink”>competition for control of shipping lanes and mineral extraction</a> in the region. In Antarctica, research from the United States’ Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula has found that “87 percent of the peninsula’s land-bound glaciers are in retreat,” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/environmental-threats-antarctica_n_1669023.html” target=”_hplink”>reported OurAmazingPlanet</a>. Decreasing sea ice levels were also addressed in <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/shell-arctic-ready-hoax-greenpeace_n_1684222.html” target=”_hplink”>a recent spoof of Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer</a>.
Crazy Sugar Highs
Climate change has already impacted sugarcane production in Indonesia. In late 2011, the <a href=”http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/11/09/sugar-association-blames-climate-change-production-drop.html http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/11/09/sugar-association-blames-climate-change-production-drop.html” target=”_hplink”>chairman of the Indonesian Sugarcane Farmers Association said</a>, “sugarcane production decreased by up to 30 percent in 2011 due to climate change that has occurred since 2009.”
Warning Joe: Coffee Extinct in The Future?
Climate changes and insect invasions threaten the future supply of morning joe.