Climate Adaptation

CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Obama throws environmental laws and treaties under the bus in secret international economic trade deal. Seriously.

Document leaked to Wikileaks. Allows companies to pollute, avoid fines, and generally skip environmental treaties and laws.

[T]he Environment Chapter is noteworthy for its absence of mandated clauses or meaningful enforcement measures. The dispute settlement mechanisms it creates are cooperative instead of binding; there are no required penalties and no proposed criminal sanctions. With the exception of fisheries, trade in ‘environmental’ goods and the disputed inclusion of other multilateral agreements, the Chapter appears to function as a public relations exercise.

Today, 15 January 2014, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Environment Chapter and the corresponding Chairs’ Report. The TPP transnational legal regime would cover 12 countries initially and encompass 40 per cent of global GDP and one-third of world trade. The Environment Chapter has long been sought by journalists and environmental groups. The released text dates from the Chief Negotiators’ summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013.

The Environment Chapter covers what the Parties propose to be their positions on: environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity and fishing stocks; and trade and investment in ‘environmental’ goods and services. It also outlines how to resolve enviromental disputes arising out of the treaty’s subsequent implementation. The draft Consolidated Text was prepared by the Chairs of the Environment Working Group, at the request of TPP Ministers at the Brunei round of the negotiations.

“ U.S. State Department attempted to influence the Pope to accept and promote GMO food produced by Monsanto. ”

"Study after study (after study) suggests that state secrecy in the United States is out of control, having reached levels incompatible over the long term with democratic government.”

- Denver Nicks writing for The Atlantic on Bradley Manning’s show trial.

Blockbuster: Wikileaks, the diplomatic cables, and climate change.

I’m digging around the Wikileaks cables for climate change nuggets and have found incredible diplomatic relations and global security issues. (Yes, this is what I do on Friday nights, and on one of my biggest birthdays).

I’ve found over 5,000 classified cables that deal with climate change, some of them jaw-dropping. The Saudi Arabia cables especially are stunning. 

My preliminary highlights:

  • UK and Argentina are battling internally over drilling for oil in the Falkand Islands
  • The United Arab Emirates secretly supported (and ostensibly still supports) the Copenhagen Accord
  • China’s political party, the PRC, saw/sees climate change as a soft power bargaining chip (I’m not making this shit up!). China got worried when Obama became president, but countered this worry by pointing out its rising status as a super-power would mitigate negotiations with him. 
  • French president Sarkozy renegotiated a security agreement with Djibouti (borders Somalia). Sarkozy insisted climate change policy remain on the table as part of the talks.
  • Russia is unnecessarily “flaring” (eg burning) untold millions of tons of natural gas at oil wells and rigs, dumping millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Russia flares this extra natural gas because it does not have the infrastructure to pipe or contain the resource for its cities. For context, Russian burns over double the amount of natural gas that Turkey uses for fuel in one year.
  • Saudi Arabia is internally panicked by Obama’s continued strong call for energy independence. This one is a block buster: “Senior officials have pointed out to us that oil is literally the lifeblood of the Kingdom, and that it is hard for them to react to statements about energy independence calmly.

More soon from me. Cheers!

Wikileaks: Climate change and rising sea waters could wipe out much of the world’s rice stocks and leave millions homeless in Thailand, a leaked US cable reveals.

The US Embassy reported that rising sea waters could also kill off the rice paddies of the Bangkok plains that contribute to Thailand’s status as the world’s largest rice exporter. ”Other Asian mega-cities such as Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City face similar inundation scenarios.”

The cable observes that climate scientists and Bangkok administrators had (estimated that) ”climate-proofing” will cost the city $5 billion USD.

”Thai research indicates that climate change, sea level rise, flooding and subsidence are creating future disaster scenarios for Bangkok similar to New Orleans.”

Source: Canberra Times

Wikileaks Bombshell: Nations rushing to “carve up” Arctic resources due to melting ice

BBC has a dramatic report on the latest Wikileaks cables involving Hilary Clinton, Stephen Harper, and NATO. Northern nations are scrambling to stake claims in fresh batches of unclaimed natural resources such as oil, aluminum, and rubies. The resources are being exposed by melting ice in the Arctic, which is expected to be ice free within a “two years.”

Hilary Clinton (click above for video), pays lip service to climate change then pivots to promote development, mining, and trade in the Arctic. The cables also show that Canadian Prime Minister Harper siding with Russia  to object to a NATO presence in the area. Harper is quoted as saying, that, “some European countries without Arctic territories were trying to use Nato to give them “influence in an area ‘where they don’t belong’”.”

British oil company Cairn Energy are in the vanguard of the Arctic oil rush. The company’s commercial director Simon Thomson told (BBC’s) Newsnight “we’re leading the charge”.

Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, oil companies like Cairn are rushing in to extract the very fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place

Source: BBC

UPDATE: Links fixed

Wikileaks: Cables cast doubts on Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. 

emergentfutures:

Peak oil: We are asleep at the wheel

Revelations that the Saudis have overstated their oil reserves are a timely reminder of the huge threat to the global economy

Full Story: The Guardian

Breaking Point: Saudi Arabia’s reserves have been in doubt for decades

I dug up this NYTimes piece on oil reserves from 2005. It outlines the historic doubts insiders have had about the actual amount of the world’s reserves. 

Oil industry insiders have been skeptical of Saudi Arabia’s reserves for decades. The information contained in the latest Wikileak’s US cables on SA’s reserves are not new information. What is new, however, is that the cables confirm that US diplomats, and therefore ostensibly politicians, O&G CEOs, and even OPEC, have been keeping the public in the dark about the how much oil is really left in the ground. This is the problem,

If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession, a result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products that rely on petrochemicals — which is to say, almost every product on the market.” See, here and Peter Maas’s piece, below:


  Oil Reserves in Doubt: The Breaking Point

August 21, 2005

By PETER MAASS

The largest oil terminal in the world, Ras Tanura, is located on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, along the Persian Gulf. From Ras Tanura’s control tower, you can see the classic totems of oil’s dominion — supertankers coming and going, row upon row of storage tanks and miles and miles of pipes. Ras Tanura, which I visited in June, is the funnel through which nearly 10 percent of the world’s daily supply of petroleum flows. Standing in the control tower, you are surrounded by more than 50 million barrels of oil, yet not a drop can be seen.

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