Friday, March 1, 2013

Weekly News Round-Up Feb 28

  • Mongabay: The Indonesian part of Borneo announced that a new province would be created on the island, which is bad news for forests. "Forming the new province may have also put primary forests in North Kalimantan at increased risk for deforestation. A large part of East Kalimantan’s wealth comes from extractives industries in the southern part of the province. North Kalimantan will now be cut off from receiving dividends from those projects, and this loss could lead to a wave of new mining, logging, and plantation permits as local officials search for new funds." If you want to get really into the weeds, there is a great paper that talks about the political science of deforestation in Indonesia.
  • Rolling Stone: Bill McKibben writing about his movement to get universities to divest from fossil fuel companies"The hope is that divestment is one way to weaken those companies – financially, but even more politically. If institutions like colleges and churches turn them into pariahs, their two-decade old chokehold on politics in DC and other capitals will start to slip. Think about, for instance, the waning influence of the tobacco lobby – or the fact that the firm making Bushmaster rifles shut down within days of the Newtown massacre, after the California Teachers Pension Fund demanded the change."
  • Apiero Group: The group predicts that the return penalty to divestment - how much divestment would cost investors - is 0.0034 percent. Almost nothing.
  • Yale 360: The Dutch are implementing climate change adaptation schemes that mimic natural ecosystems. As a low lying country, the Netherlands is particularly vulnerable. "One solution is employing living organisms as natural buffers. A mangrove forest, for instance, “has a tendency to catch sediments and grow with sea level rise,” said Deltares marine biologist Mindert de Vries, “whereas these sandy solutions are losing sand all the time.” De Vries, an eco-engineering expert, is designing hybrid dikes, planting vegetation such as willows on the seaward side to absorb the ocean’s first blows."
  • NY Times: Agriculture is going to be impacted in a big way by climate change. “If warming continues unabated, it will, in a matter of decades, reach levels at which adaptation is no longer possible,” the researchers conclude. “Any long-run solution must involve rapid reduction of emissions, to limit the future extent of climate change.”
  • Mongabay: A pretty interesting article on the changing role of the private sector and how there are some companies out there doing great stuff. "In recent years, a group of visionary corporate leaders have been quietly teaming up with a growing number of environmental groups to take a hard look at what’s left of our planet’s natural resources. Together, they agree: we are past the point where our land and oceans can meet the food, energy and commodity demands of our planet’s seven billion inhabitants. More sobering still, they estimate that by 2050, at our current rates of consumption, it will require three planet earths to meet the needs of our expected population of nine billion people. The take-away message for businesses that rely on finite resources such as water and forests is that “sustainability” is no longer a matter of choice, but a matter of economic survival."
  • Climate myths: Painstakingly debunking every single climate change denier myth.
  • Shell will not drill in the arctic in 2013.
  • Grist: Climate change analysts should stop giving activists such a hard time. "But climate change isn’t like AIDS; Americans are not wasting away and dying before our eyes. Finding something that serves as a spark for impassioned climate activism is incredibly difficult. It is even more difficult to find something positive and generative to rally behind. Most organizers won’t say it publicly, but it’s just easier to get people fired up through outrage and anger. The great activist movements of the past were protests, and protests generally benefit from villains. Think of it this way. Would you march in the streets on behalf of a research park? Or a new graduate program in sustainable systems design? A solar farm owned and operated by a profit-making business? A PACE financing bill? Federal cleantech funding is set to fall off a cliff over the next few years. Could a rally to support increased cleantech funding bring more than 40,000 people to the National Mall on a freezing cold day?"
  • Gawker: It's not environment related, but this Bob Woodward fiasco is driving me crazy. If you read through the full email exchange between Woodward and White House advisor Gene Sperling, Woodward's claim that the White House threatened him seems ridiculous. Apologies if you had avoided hearing about this non-news and I just made you stupider by telling you about it.

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