Reading Around the Internet: December 8, 2014

This week, between grading and some other writing (on deadline, of course), I also took some time to catch up a little on climate change politics. Here’s some of the reading I did:

Philippines Hit By Typhoon

A storm named Hagupit (“Whip”, but also known as Typhoon Ruby) has struck the Philippines. At least 900,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes. You may remember that last year Typhoon Haiyan killed 6,300 people and caused $13 billion in damage.  This time, thanks to preparedness and evacuation strategies the nation was spared the extreme amount of devastation and high death toll of Haiyan. That said, Hagupit is responsible for the deaths of three people, has caused landslides and damage to homes and buildings across the country. One of the more detailed and interesting articles covering the storm is from The Irish Times.

Antartica’s Ice

You may have heard that the ice shelves in Antarctica have been melting, causing a lot of concern regarding global climate change. A recent article from Ars Technica  discusses some of the recent science investigating the causes of the melting ice. While you’re reading that, and bundling up to go outside, you might want to take a look at the possible effects of Arctic ice melting from another Ars Technica article (here).  While the relationship is correlative and not causal, it is noteworthy how strong the correlation is.

UN Climate Talks

The UN Climate Summit 2014 is well underway, where world leaders are meeting in an attempt to craft a global agreement that would curb global warming.  You can read statements from the Member States as well as watch videos at the website. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow discussion about the summit at #climate2014. For awhile, as the Wall Street Journal reported, it appeared that China and the US had jointly unveiled longterm plans to cut carbon-dioxide emissions.  However, it appears that the momentum for change that resulting from what some commentators saw as a historic U.S.-China pact has slowed as conflicts between rich and poor countries concerning the roles of various countries in these plans have increased.  In addition, China has been working to remove provisions in the draft agreements that would allow other countries as well as non-governmental agencies to submit questions concerning carbon-reduction plans. The idea behind the provisions is to shine light onto the individual country plans and provide for some accountability among the various signees of the agreement. The tensions have been rising, not unexpectedly, as some of the harder questions and more difficult issues become the focus. However, there are several more days to go before the talks end, and so China’s position may change.

Reading Around the Internet: November 10, 2014

The news in the US was dominated this last week with election… stuff… But a couple of things crossed my desk that were on-point for DPP’s themes…

USACE and Climate Change

The US Army Corps of Engineers has released its plan for adapting its work to take into account both climate change and sustainability issues. It’s titled “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Climate Change Adaptation Plan.” Their news release is here, along with links to this plan and their 2014 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. The two documents provide an overview of the plans the Corps has for focusing “on sustainability and on mainstreaming climate change adaptation of our constructed and natural water-resources infrastructure…” The Corps, of course, is very important in natural disaster operations, as well as many mitigation efforts. While they do have to coordinate with other agencies, the navigable water of the US — all of them — fall under their jurisdiction. That makes these reports very important indeed.

President Executive Orders and Climate Change

As everyone in the US is aware, there was an election in the US. Just before the election on November 1st, President Obama issued an Executive Order with the intent of preparing “the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience…” This is a follow-up and extension of policy that has already been underway for some time. If you read through the press release and the language of the Executive Order, you can see that it is designed to advance the work that has been on-going since as early as 2001 (with regard to critical infrastructure).

Volcanoes!

Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, which has been rumbling since mid-August, has been keeping Icelanders inside, and causing earthquakes. Since November 7th, there have been 200 earthquakes ash the volcano continues its activity. The gases from the volcano have meant that school children have had to stay in doors, and people who have upper respiratory sensitivities are being told to stay inside and warm up their houses in order to keep the gases from getting inside. As the interviews in this Bloomberg report indicate, the only thing residents can do is let Mother Nature take her course.

Winter Weather… Is Here…  

A lot of my readership will be experiencing winter weather here this coming week. Weather.com has an overview of the weather here. It’ll be unseasonably cold here in southeast Missouri, but my thoughts always turn northward when these storms hit to my old stomping grounds in Minnesota. Good luck family and friends up north! Stay warm and stay safe!