Asia/Pacific

Mon, 2008-02-04 14:02Bill Miller
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Bush fiddles with global warming in State of the Union finale

It’s tempting, but most certainly optimistic, to view President Bush’s 2008 State of the Union as his last gasp at blocking progress on global warming. He will, after all, be gone from office before the year is out and it’s tempting to think he hasn’t sufficient time to further damage efforts to reign in climate change.

But there’s no time to lose. And continued obstructionism by the Bush Administration doesn’t just highlight its continuing failure to grasp the urgency of the problem, it also ensures far greater difficulties for its successors, who will have to arrest the problem at home while pressing other major polluters like China and India to act.

Wed, 2008-01-16 10:04Bill Miller
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Eat less meat to fight climate change, IPCC chief says

Individual lifestyle choices can play a key role in reducing the output of carbon dioxide and other gases generated by human activity that are driving global warming, says the head of the UN’s Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change.

So instead of simply waiting for governments to take action, individuals can do their part by cutting meat consumption, walking more and buying less.

Mon, 2008-01-14 12:56Bill Miller
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It’s already later than we realize in the struggle to arrest climate change

A recent essay says the most pressing current scientific and political challenge is to avoid what is known as “dangerous” global warming – the point where world temperatures become irreversible.

As there’s a 25-to-30-year lag between greenhouse emissions and the full impact of their warming, current climate chaos is a result of carbon spewed in the late 1970s. The hit from more recent discharges – including China’s coal plants – is but pain yet to come.

So we’re dangerously close already.

Tue, 2008-01-08 09:58Bill Miller
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China’s economic juggernaut wreaks social and environmental havoc in smaller nations

Having sped past the U.S. as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, China has become a despoiler on a scale as monumental as its economic expansion, plundering smaller nations to fuel its own rising tide of consumption.

A New York Times article just after the UN climate-change conference in Indonesia identified China as the pivotal determinant on global warming. Now, the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine has drawn a scathing portrait of a nation that not only leads the world in coal consumption, but also uses more than the next three highest-ranked nations – the U.S., Russia and India – combined, with ominous implications for the planet.

China says that as a poor nation of 1.3-billion people, it is entitled to pollute and spew greenhouse emissions to alleviate poverty. But with its middle class projected to leap from less than 100 million to 700 million by 2020, and with sales of Porsches, Ferraris and Maseratis flourishing in Beijing, that argument is rapidly losing its edge.

Wed, 2007-12-26 06:49Ross Gelbspan
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Japan Plays Russian Roulette in its Energy Quest

Fifty-five million years ago the world's climate was catastrophically changed when volcanoes melted natural gas frozen in the seabed. Now Japan plans to drill for the same icy crystals to end its reliance on imported energy. Billions of tons of methane hydrate, frozen chunks of chemical-laced water buried in sediment some 3,000 feet under the Pacific Ocean floor, may help Japan win energy independence from the Middle East and Indonesia. Japanese engineers have found enough “flammable ice'' to meet its gas use demands for 14 years. The trick is extracting it without damaging the environment.

 

Mon, 2007-12-17 18:21Bill Miller
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China-U.S. rift casts long shadow after Bali

As dust settles from the recent UN climate-change conference in Indonesia, some observers are looking to China as the looming pivotal factor in the global-warming struggle.

The world’s most populous nation, now also neck-and-neck with the U.S. as its biggest greenhouse polluter, was the subject of a recent news article under the banner “As China goes, so goes global warming.”

The best the Bali delegates could achieve was two more years of talks on setting emission curbs, but with China building new coal-burning plants at the rate of one a week, in what states of peril will the planet be two years hence?

Thu, 2007-12-13 11:53Bill Miller
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China, U.S. intransigence over climate policy hijacks Bali talks

A face off between the world’s largest greenhouse-gas spewers has taken center stage at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, and China appears to be winning its public-relations battle with the U.S.

China has reiterated it will not consider mandatory emissions cuts until the U.S. and other industrialized countries such as Canada embrace a less-extravagant lifestyle. The U.S. is standing pat in its opposition to mandatory limits.

Although both countries have dug in their heels, China, which many believe has already surpassed the U.S. as the world's top emitter of heat-trapping gases, is now seen as playing a constructive role on global warming after years of dodging the issue.

In that scenario, the U.S. is losing friends fast.

Fri, 2007-12-07 11:20Bill Miller
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Gore pushes Bali delegates for early pact to curb emissions

Former vice-president Al Gore has urged officials to advance by two years a new treaty to curb greenhouse emissions instead of waiting for the Kyoto Protocol to expire in 2012.

Thu, 2007-12-06 08:41Ross Gelbspan
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Climate Refugees Make South Asia a Political Powderkeg

Global warming may heat up conflicts. The worst effects of climate change may destabilize regions that were already shaky.

The prime example: Bangladesh.

Wed, 2007-12-05 21:58Emily Murgatroyd
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You Might Die - But it Will Cost Too Much To Do Anything So Let's Not.

If you were told that you had a fatal disease and a Doctor told you how to get better, but then an economist came along and told you that the cost of treating you would be too high so it would be better not to do anything - would you sit there and wait to die?

It's that kind of inane logic that governs this quote from Cato Institute Senior fellow, Jerry Taylor who said, “scientists are in no position to intelligently guide public policy on climate change.” Scientists can lay out scenarios, but it is up to economists to weigh the costs and benefits and many of them say the costs of cutting emissions are higher than the benefits”.

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