I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.
By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 2:12 AM GMT on November 11, 2010
Cancun and News
My recent blogs have been long analyses of climate change science and politics and communication and organization. I am delighted to have seen them propagate around, both publically and not – for example American Meteorology Society. It’s very gratifying to see others use and improve on what one does. This entry is going to be far simpler. A little about Cancun Conference of the Parties, Roger Pielke Jr.’s new book, Merapi volcano, and some news from Pakistan. OK, it’s news.
Cancun, Conference of the Parties - 16: A year ago, November 2009, I was planning a trip to the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen. The Conference of the Parties (COP) are the annual meetings that are part of the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before Copenhagen there was great energy, with some notion that the Copenhagen meeting would lead to a breakthrough on international climate change agreements. Of course, that did not happen and while there was spin that the meeting was a success, most people that I know were not enthusiastic about the outcome. (The Copenhagen Accord) My take of the outcome was that there was symbolic political recognition that global warming needed to be addressed, but no substantive steps were taken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Plus, the political, economic and technological realities are that we will not see international agreement on reducing emissions anytime soon. It will be much longer before there is any real reduction of emissions. (Here are student blogs and my blogs from last year. UoM and Alma Students, Rood)
I am not going to Cancun. There is a group of students from Michigan and Alma going this year, and again, they will be blogging from the meeting on the Climate Blue website. This year my expectations are (even) lower than last year. The U.S. is further away from a national position than a year ago, and without the U.S. having a coherent voice, then there is no real way to be effective in the U.N. And, of course, there is no real international desire for a climate treaty. The press and the politicians are not playing up this meeting. There will still be thousands of people and lots of action on the ground; people will still look for opportunities and build towards the future.
The intractable nature of greenhouse gas emission reduction policy is one of the reasons that I advocate exposing and scaling up of local and commercial activities ( here).
Roger Pielke Jr: On October 25, 2010 Roger Pielke Jr spoke at the Ford School at the University of Michigan. ( Pielke Seminar) I was the commentator at the presentation. Roger was talking about material in his new book, The Climate Fix. Roger Pielke Jr. is a highly controversial, strongly stated political scientist who is expert in climate change. He is a prolific and early blogger. The gist of his talk was that what we are doing now to develop climate policy does not work, and it is time to consider the underlying reasons why and to do something different. There were those in audience who expected me to take exception to this message, but I did not. My experience over the past five years is that what we are doing on the international level to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is broken and that there are fundamental reasons why. At the center of reasons, we don’t really have any market-viable alternative energy sources and no technological ways to abate the emission of carbon dioxide. This, in combination with our imperatives for economic growth (read, energy use), makes the situation currently intractable. Combine that with the political realities, we do have to do something different. Pielke Jr. provides a more thorough, more quantitative, and controversial analysis of this situation (The Climate Fix).
Merapi Volcano: Some time ago I wrote a piece called Climate, Belief and the Volcano. In that piece I wrote about Mr. Marijan who was the spirit keeper of the volcano. In these recent eruptions Mr. Marijan died.
Pakistan: I am certain to maintain an interest in Pakistan far longer than the average disaster attention span. My youngest sister Elizabeth is Counsel General in Peshawar so I keep an eye on the news. I saw her this past week (a good thing), and it is a tough, tough place to be. Flood wise, there is progress in the Northwest, and there are efforts to plant winter wheat. Sindh, in the South, is still flooded. One thing Elizabeth pointed out to me that the flood had deposited 12 feet of silt in places, and amongst other things the land was now higher than the irrigation systems. UNICEF says they are running out of money, food, and vaccines, and a bad situation is likely to get worse. Attention to the Pakistan flood is moral imperative, a humanitarian imperative, and a security imperative. (Pakistan Flooding: A Climate Disaster, Yours truly on Chicago-based Radio Islam, Rood interview)
Here are some places that my sister has recommended for the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. Organizations she sees.
Doctors Without Borders
The International Red Cross
MERLIN medical relief charity
U.S. State Department Recommended Charities
The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word "SWAT" to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.
Portlight Disaster Relief at Wunderground.com
Figure 1. Despair of Pakistan’s forgotten flood victims: BBC coverage of continuing flood in Pakistan
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