What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

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Delhi Metro: How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways!

1. The emissions reductions
There is a reason I’m posting this love letter to WWTC. The Delhi Metro’s emission reductions have been certified by the CDM, confirming that from 2004-2007 the regenerative breaking systems on Delhi Metro Rail’s trains prevented emissions of 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – like taking 16,000 cars off the road. And that’s only the breaks! It doesn’t even count how many cars it has actually taken off the road.
2.The Health
It’s not only that I believe the metro keeps fewer autorickshaws and cars on the road, thus keeping more black carbon and particulates out of the air, but also that it makes its riders healthier too! I walk to the metro, kilometers sometimes, and up these delightful stairs and I feel more fit for it.
3. The Safety
Moving to Delhi has made me afraid of 3 things I used to love: men, dogs and buses. Buses are worth fearing not only because the old blue line buses kill 100 people every year in pedestrian accidents, but also because buses feature crowds of men acting like dogs. Worst of all worlds. I’ve never ridden a bus without getting groped once. Enter: the women’s car of the metro. Not only is it a place of fantastic color and great shoes, but there is a community here. We can fix our hair, nurse our babies, giggle. Things you’d never do in the presence of men! And, best of all, we can ride grope-free.
4. The Miracle
In all the sacred places of India, from the glaciers that feed the river Ganga to the Buddha’s bodhi tree, people litter. And yet, in the miracle of miracles, no one does in the Delhi Metro. No one.

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Half the Sky: Women and Climate Change

When drought parches wells and streams,
someone must carry water. When storms bring devastation
and disease, someone has to nurse the sick.
Climate change hits hardest on the planet’s vulnerable edges.
If women hold up half the sky, what do we do
when it seems the sky is falling?

- Barbara Kingsolver, Ripple Effect Images

Ripple Effect Image

On International Women’s Day, it’s hard not to think about the most vulnerable, the women all around the world whose lives are being most impacted by climate change. As Kingsolver described, it’s women and girls who are travelling farther to bring water to their homes, walking for hours a day, eliminating many girls’ already-slim chance to attend school. It’s women who cook for hours in their kitchens, breathing in the smoke from cookstoves that pollute their lungs and their air. And, it’s women who are often last to eat, even when the first responsible for putting food on their families’ plates, even in the face of increasing food scarcity.

Hillary Clinton recently echoed Madeleine Albright in saying that issues of gender equality are issues of national and global security, and the impacts of climate change are woven tightly between the two. We cannot solve the challenges of climate change without empowering and educating women, and we cannot solve our other global challenges without addressing climate change. As Time recently wrote, “If you want to change the world, invest in girls.”

Solar SisterEmpowering female entrepreneurs and political leaders has never been more needed nor more possible. There’s Solar Sister in Africa and Barefoot College in India, training women as solar engineers and entrepreneurs; Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement, planting trees and hope across Africa; dozens of groups of women constructing rainwater harvesting and catch dams. See the impact of giving female leaders better information about development decisions, training women on basic green technologies, and getting cleaner cookstoves into women’s homes.

These programs not only make women stronger, but help their families and communities. The World Food Programme reports that women who earn, invest 90 percent back into their families, and back into their communities. Investing in women means investing in communities, in truly sustainable development. Today, the problems and their solutions are closer than ever: “Help a Woman. Help the Planet.”

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Invoking Reason at COP 16

Ixchel, Mayan goddess of Reason

Yesterday the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 6th Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to its Kyoto Protocol (KP) kicked off in Cancun, Mexico.  The opening ceremony as usual helped set the tone of the event.  After having attended four COPs and a few intercessional UNFCCC meetings, one thing I always look forward to is the opening of the COP.  In addition to speeches by local politicians, the head of state, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, and a representative of the science community, there is always an element showcasing the local culture.  While we are here to work, I still think it important to make sure that there be some symbolism as to why we are meeting in that specific part of the world (in this case Cancun) for such an event .

A few key elements were prominent during the opening that I would like to highlight.  First was the incredible speech given by Simona Gomez, a representative of the Mexican indigenous groups.  She spoke of how the climate in her native of Chiapas had changed and how her community of 6,000 needed alternate sources of income in addition to the handicraft trade.  The solution, she said, could be twofold:  getting paid to reforest a denuded area coupled with effective management strategies for local resources would mean the creation of jobs and saving the

environment.  As she spoke I could not help but think about the millions of indigenous people across the world who have been waiting for the day to be able to play a role in decision making processes that affect the resources on which they depend.  She ended her speech with:  “you who are so well prepared, know a lot . . .”  I asked myself if we the delegates, many representing political nation states, do in fact “know a lot.”  For if we did know this then surely we would know that the urgency of the issue requires immediate action to safeguard against planetary ecological collapse.  Surely we would know that the fate of future generations rested upon the only forum for addressing climate change.

The fate of the future generations was mentioned a few times in the opening.  A beautiful video prepared for the opening ceremony showed children with eyes closed or covered by cloth.  Their message was this:  “you grownup decision makers were children once too and had a vision of a perfect world.  You were inspired by the beauty of the planet.  Don’t close your eyes.  Don’t cease to see inspiration.  Let inspiration help you make the right decision.”  I am certain that a lot of the message was probably lost in translation.  Later, President Calderon of Mexico also encouraged the delegates to think of the children during the negotiations regardless of color or political boundaries because climate change understood neither.  Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

It was the need for reason that made Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, invoke Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon, happiness and reason, during her speech.  We are after all, in the land of the ancient Maya and we must tap the creativity and intelligence of that civilization to move the UNFCCC process forward.  We must also take lessons from history and recall that the Mayan civilization collapsed for many reasons, one of which might have been diminishing resources.  Let not the collective modern human civilization go the same way especially when we hold our future in our own hands.  Let us invoke reason.  May the Mayan goddess Ixchel watch over these proceedings.


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What is the truth about the Himalaya’s Glacier melt? Why not go see for yourself?

In recent times I’ve been reading a lot about climate change not being real. First the climate gate scandal followed by

These mountains in the depths of district of Chamba in the state of Himachal Pradesh (India) used to have a lot more snow.

the many articles attacking the IPCC for incorrectly publishing information on the glaciers melting in the Himalayas by 2035. Climate scientists, economics, politicians and business persons are being interviewed left, right and centre.

The question on the lips of the public is – what is the truth? The truth is such an interesting thing – where more often than not, it is a human tendency for a person to believe what they want to hear.

I pose a question to all people who are jumping on the bandwagon of denying the Himalayan glacier melt due to an error made by the IPCC, and denying the existence of climate change. How many of you have been to the Himalayas? How many of you have spoken to the citizens in the mountains of India and Nepal who have spent their whole lives there? 

Very few of you – if any.

I do not say this to accuse anyone of being a immoral or irresponsible, however before we make accusatory remarks and write articles of great consequence, we must get our facts straight.

I am not a climate scientist, economist, business person or a politician. However I have been to the Himalayas and met some of its people.

I was up near Haridwar, at the foot of the Himalaya’s in northern India only weeks ago, speaking to friends and colleagues who have grown up in the mountains their entire lives. Every single person spoke with sadness at how quickly the glaciers have receded in their lifetime. Some mentioned to me how many of them have had to move homes in search of better soil, because the melting glaciers have meant changes in water access and there for loss of agricultural productivity. For those of you who are farmers, I’m sure you can understand how painful that process can be.

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Bin Laden – How To Respond

This has been crossposted from http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/01/29/bin-laden-how-to-respond/#comments.

Climategate was a well coordinated, strategic and devestating attack on the Copenhagen climate talks in December last year. With unprecedented moves from U.S. and China in the run-up, the world’s media and attention was hooked onto the alleged manipulation of data at the University of East Anglia. That stolen information framed the entire negotiations, and set it up for failure.

Today the prospect of a clean-energy economy faces a new threat.

Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States for climate change, according to a new audiotape released today. Right-wing media outlets including The Daily Telegraph, Drudge and Fox News, are already seizing on the al-Qaida leader’s comments. All this on the same day that the American administration formally announced it’s 2020 carbon targets, and a 39% increase in wind-power.

Those in the struggle for a clean-energy economy and safe climate future, should ask themselves why bin Laden would come out with this statement. This is the man who has shown no concern for human life, indeed revels in killing innocent people – why does he now care about rising sea-levels?

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Some Examples of Climate Change Illiteracy

This entry has been cross posted at Reporting on a Revolution.

Following on the heels of my previous post in which I attempted to put up arguments in favor of human induced global warming, a stark and scary reminder of what I am up against. A couple of example of climate change illiteracy I picked up from the blogosphere.

This one is from Climate Progress and an interview with Barb Davis White a republican who is running for the 5Th Congressional District in Minnesota.

WHITE: My name is Barb Davis White and I’m running for the 5Th Congressional District against Keith Ellison for the United States House of Representatives, which is called Congress.

ROMM: Where are you on global warming?

WHITE: Well, global warming really has not been proven. There are 30,000 scientists, including Al Gore’s professor, from Princeton, who says that we are now in a cooling stage. And ev-every — also every other climate that has been warmed had better grapes.

ROMM: So you don’t believe in global warming and you don’t think that people caused it.

WHITE: No, I think global warming is a scam. I think it’s a scam to put taxes — more taxes on us, and it’s called carbon taxes. Our environment has never been so clean, and if we want to push global warming, let’s push it on China, where the smog is so thick that you almost need a helmet to breathe. Let’s push it on Africa and see how they adapt to it, because they’re not going to.

And from Pharyngula who got it from Diatomaceous Earth. A letter sent to the local paper in Fargo, North Dakota. Is Fargo really this eerie?!!

When God sent the rain on this Earth for 40 days and nights, all this water had to go someplace so the Earth would be dry again.

Remember, God is the Creator and controls the universe.

God tilted the Earth from its original position and caused all the excess water to rush to the poles, and there he instantly froze the water into the ice formations that exist today. Time is ticking down on God’s time clock.

With all the nuclear bombs that are made and stored for the fast-emerging last battle, this Earth would burn up when these nuclear bombs are set off.

We are not creating global warming – God is tipping the Earth back to its original position on its axis and thus getting all this ice to get ready to move and extinguish the nuclear destructive fires man will create.

Is this being taught in church or at home.? Where do people learn this? Unbelievable! I have come across the first type of illiteracy i.e. the Barb Davis White type in India, but so far not the second. We can find humor in this but it is a rather depressing example of how a religious fundamentalist education can warp your world view. Have you experienced such extreme views in India?


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