India Perhaps Ready To Change

It’s come as a bit of a surprise to some but it looks like the Indian Government may be on the verge of a major change in it’s climate change policy.   In it’s new 5 year plan there is an agreement to a global emissions cap prior to the more developed countries making their biding pledges for reducing emissions rapidly.

The Indian Government had previously stated in climate change meetings that rich and developed countries must take the lead. But it looks like the country now will be prepared to carry out a reduction of climate change domestically under it’s own steam.  There previous stance was that both financial and technological support from richer countries must come first.

It’s potentially a huge breakthrough if true.  One of the big problems is that countries like India are preventing any form of true global agreement.  However the reality of climate change is that countries must proceed to do much more with or without this global agreement.

The positive economic aspects are perhaps partly responsible for this big shift.  The benefits of aggressive energy efficieny drives given a real incentive due to the recent huge power cuts across the entire country.  Accelerated roll outs of renewables and addressing the high pollution industries that exist across India.

However as usual in this area – there is rarely a concensus and the USAs lead negotiator has suggested that the 2C warming target perhaps should be scrapped.  This was a very depressing statement and roundly condemned by the Eu and many others. However if you want to get a feeling of how the US feels about global warming then check out their main News channels.  You can find information on how to get a US IP address on this site – this will allow you to access these programmes, there’s also quite a bit on the Canadian media which you can access through this method.   You will quickly see that the economy is way higher up the agenda in the US than global warming is (although arguably they are not alone in this!)

Some Important Issues for Your Environmental Debate

Protecting the environment has become among the most talked about and hotly debated issues across the world. Many businesses are investing vast sums of dollars to produce goods or make their goods environmentally friendly. A good example is the electric car that’s being considered a feasible alternative to that of-the current petrol powered automobile.

The travel industry too hasn’t been left out-of the problem. Also like every-other industry the travel industry wants to be worried about ways to do business that are environmentally friendly. Outlined here are a few of the environmental problems affecting the travel business which stakeholders have to deal with and in long term solutions are sought out by some cases.

1. Mass tourism. It is threatening the fauna and flora and putting stress on ecosystems within these areas. Again this provides a risk to the tourism of the place and to the ecosystems within the areas.

2. Deforestation. In spite of-the call to safeguard the ecosystem there are still areas where enormous logging is taking place. That is also contributing to destruction of fauna and flora and can be a hazard to the tourism in those areas.

3. Using the decision to go green impacting all businesses around the world the tourism business is not omitted. There is stress on people who are in the sector to find systems of working that are eco-friendly and sustainable. For example can the resort business construct hotels which are more environmentally friendly? What approaches can they use to save electricity and reduce on compounds that are found in the dry cleaning of heaps of laundry found in the business?

4. Human encroachment. This is a hazard to the tourism of most countries. Human encroachment is, in addition, compelling animals to move from their habitat to other locations where they can’t survive leading to the extinction of particular species.

5. A major issue for businesses is the consequence for climate change as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Aviation generates at least two% of emissions. However not all airlines particularly in the poorer nations can afford to buy new aircraft.

Technology obviously has a huge part to play in so many ways.  One of the least obvious ones is the important role of raising awareness of the important of our environmental predicament.  Although many of us are well aware of the importance of reducing carbon emissions and global warming, this is largely due to the huge media exposure to the issues in our countries.  Fortunately nowadays important sources of climate change reporting are accessible through the internet.  For example it’s even possible to access the wonderful BBC’s resources on the subject, in fact with the best VPN software or proxy you can watch British TV abroad using the internet on anything from a phone to a PC.

Joe Simpson is a writer on this media site  which raises awareness of environmental issues through social media.

The River Risk in the USA

I was watching a programme the other day on the BBC, it was a science show being syndicated across radio and the TV station.  I’d listened to the initial broadcast which was on the World Service about the river pollution and problems in the UK and how they had started solving them.  Unfortunately I thought I’d missed the BBC show as initially I was blocked from the BBC Iplayer site because of my location.  Fortunately I was able to spend a few bucks after someone showed me this web page which explained how to access British TV online and I was able to stream it across the internet without problems.  They certainly had their problems but some strong legislation has ensured that the quality of UK rivers has improved greatly over the last decade or so.

However there are similar concerns being raised in the US now, where the environmental group American Rivers has recently released it’s report on the most endangered rivers in the United States.  I was surprised to hear that one the biggest worries is that of the Colorado river.  Now I’ve just been on the Colorado during a visit to Las Vegas, and it looked mightily healthy to me.  However apparently the report has suggested that outdated river management techniques is sucking the mighty river dry – apparently the mighty Colorado River doesn’t even make it to the ocean before running dry.

Here are the top ten most endangered rivers according to the report.

  1. Colorado River (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming)
  2. Flint River (Georgia)
  3. San Saba River (Texas)
  4. Little Plover River (Wisconsin)
  5. Catawba River (North Carolina and South Carolina)
  6. Boundary Waters (Minnesota)
  7. Black Warrior River (Alabama)
  8. Rough & Ready and Baldface Creeks (Oregon)
  9. Kootenai River (British Columbia, Montana and Idaho)
  10. Niobrara River (Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming)

There’s some incredible rivers there, but apparently these are really at serious risk.  One of the big problems is that the current water management techniques are ill suited to modern times.

You can take a lot more water out of a river when the rainful is plentiful than you can in the current climates.  Global warming is going to claim a lot of victims and unless we all globally try and reduce our consumption of water – some of our most loved rivers will be amongst them.

Reference – American Rivers Report 

Additional –

Fall in the Artic Sea Ice Levels

The amount of sea ice has fallen considerably in the Artic over the last few year.  Even if we look back at the end of March, there seemed to be somewhat of a recovery  in volume.  In fact the levels were beginning to show an unlikely return to the average levels (over period 1978 -2012), and a ten year high.

However this seems to be something of a false dawn, as at the end of August we saw some reports from the National Snow and Ice Data centre which suggested all was not well.  Their report showed that the extent of the ice was approximately 1.5 million square miles which is actually the lowest level ever.  The previous low was recorded during the Summer months of 1979 but it should be pointed out that the data being analysed was only available since 1979.


It was most  unusual because the minimum ice count is normally recorded in the months of September/October – it will be interesting to see if further levels are recorded.  Unfortunately because of the small samples of data it is difficult to see how significant these falls are.  There’s also a lot of confusion about how much the decline is down to a natural cycle and factors such as weather conditions, ocean currents and cycles.  Many of course believe that a lot is down to man made factors and global warming due to the greenhouse effect.

The ice is also important to our environment, it reflects solar radiation back into outer space.  If this does not happen then the sea does become warmer and the cycle of ice falls will accelerate even faster.  There is also the worry that the ice traps lots of gas like methane under the sea bed, this if released could also speed up the global warming effect.

If you want to keep up with all the latest developments and information about global warming, it’s best to do so from a non-bias and independent source like the BBC.  There is lots of information on their web site including the excellent Bite Size series which is a great introduction for kids.  For adults there are lots of programmes on the BBC Iplayer which explore both sides of the argument from the Newsnight, Horizon and Natural History departments.  If you have difficulty accessing the BBC Iplayer due to being outside the UK try this site –  It contains links and information about how you change your IP address to make it look lke you’re in the UK, very useful information.

Population Burden and Benefit

Malthus, Paul Ehrlich and many other thinkers, social commentators and writers view people essentially as a burden. It is this perspective that leads to conclusions of doom and gloom not only for humanity but for the planet in general. In contrast to this pessimistic view of humanity is the view epitomized by Julian Simon that people have a lot to offer.

Both points of view are essentially stereotypes. People are neither angels or devils. Rather the writers are talking about the aggregate impact of people on resources such as food, water, fossil fuels and minerals.

Ehrlich is right that human activity spreads over the globe. As population numbers increase the need for new land for housing, factories, entertainment centers etc. follows. As a result wilderness areas are becoming fewer and fewer. The Amazon is being chopped down to clear space for new farming settlements (as well as for logging companies).

In the second bet that Ehrlich proposed with Simon he wanted to count clean air, clean rivers, and unpolluted soil as his indices. Simon wisely turned down the bet because he would have lost. Pollution continues to spread despite attempts by governments, NGOs, charities and communities to clean up nature.

On the other hand, there is a lot to be said for Julian Simon’s insistence that human inventiveness and resourcefulness will finds ways to overcome problems. Scientists and engineers constantly make designs and systems more efficient. Ways of generating clean energy have been pioneered. Agricultural innovation keeps abreast with human numbers. As a problem arises the conditions force humans to find solutions.

The only concern is that the crisis might happen to fast for us to respond with a solution. If global warning accelerates with the release of trapped methane in the perma frost we might not have time to respond. If Antarctic ice melts and the glaciers in Greenland do too 60% of the land mass will be flooded. London, New York, Tokyo, Koh Phangan in Thailand, Fiji, Mombasa, Rio will all become submerged.

We need to take the threat of global warming seriously now.