Friday, March 30, 2012

State of the Planet Declaration

Debategraph's dynamic map for the Planet Under Pressure

The State of the Planet Declaration from the Planet Under Pressure conference is now available online:

Society is taking substantial risks by delaying urgent and large-scale action. We must show leadership at all levels. We must all play our parts. A strong contribution from all stakeholders should make the UN’s Rio+20 conference a defining moment that sparks global innovation to move us towards a sustainable future. We urge the world to grasp this moment and make history.

...let’s be honest. While some progress has been made in addressing global environmental issues, poverty alleviation and food, water, energy and human security, the scale of actions has not been commensurate with the scale of the problems. The issues to be debated at Rio+20 are the same as those identified 20 years ago, but it is now even more urgent to address them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Connecting the Dots: Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Climate campaigners are organising events for 5 May 2012.

Across the planet now we see ever more flood, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked — the impacts we’re already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.

But because the globe is so big, it’s hard for most people to see that it’s all connected. That’s why, on May 5, we will Connect the Dots.

If you're wondering why we should bother, a careful reading of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) latest report MANAGING THE RISKS OF EXTREME EVENTS AND DISASTERS TO ADVANCE CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION might fuel your interest:

Extreme weather and climate events, interacting with exposed and vulnerable human and natural systems, can lead to disasters. This Special Report explores the social as well as physical dimensions of weather- and climate-related disasters, considering opportunities for managing risks at local to international scales.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Clive Palmer's Perfect CIA Storm

My latest roundup for Global Voices Online:
In a “bizarre” outburst mining magnate Clive Palmer joined the ranks of the CIA conspiracy theorists this week during the Queensland State election campaign. Australian bloggers have revelled in his accusations that the CIA funds Green candidates and organisations such as Greenpeace.

...As they say: One person's conspiracy is another person's reality.
Australia: Mining Magnate's Bizarre Claim of CIA Coal Conspiracy

A friend on Google+ asked: "Are you sure you didn't make all that up :-)"

My reply:

As the cliché goes, you couldn't make up this stuff. Clive Palmer is a perfect storm: a greedy mining magnate, a climate denier, a Tory and a loose cannon. Gina Rinehart, who is referenced in the cartoon, also fits this description but she is also buying into TV and newspapers - presumably with a view to promoting her 'interests'. Andrew Forrest is the third leg of this axis of greed. Their common bond: digging stuff and selling it to the Chinese.

I forgot: And regime change, of course.


Monday, March 19, 2012

World Water Day Video: The World Is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry

From the UN Water The World Is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry, in English with Arabic subtitles:

World Water Day 22 March 2012 official video, focusing on the theme of the campaign "Water and Food Security".

Produced by and featuring a soundtrack by DDG Project.
Download your animation on:

What are you doing for World Water Day?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Green Economy Starts in Our Own Backyards

We’re not talking about veggie gardens. It’s the big picture stuff that will be debated at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. This 'doughnut' demonstrates the complexity and difficulty of the task facing negotiators:

Planetary and social boundaries: a safe and just space for humanity (Source: Oxfam)
In Australia’s case, it’s our own backwaters. Our national government and negotiators are currently setting priorities for the United Nations conference on sustainable development in June 2012.

One of its highest priorities is a Blue Economy:
“Blue economy” initiatives should promote the development of marine
industries which sustainably derive ecological, economic and social benefits from
marine ecosystems.
Reconciling green with growth has taken on new colours down under: blue waters versus black coal; a clean future versus fossil fuels. How do we nurture our oceans while exploiting our coal reserves?

A report on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) 7.30 program on 6 March explored some of the issues in Does resources boom affect Great Barrier Reef?:
The Great Barrier Reef is facing death by 1,000 cuts, from mining and overdevelopment - at least that's one of the messages being sent loud and clear to a United Nations inspection team here to assess whether the reef should be classified as a World Heritage Site in Danger.
The full video report is available online with the transcript.

“Bulk commodity shipping” is the major threat as “mega mines” are opened, ports expanded, new facilities developed and total coal exports increase dramatically. Critics argue that a major ecological disaster has been averted so far through good luck rather than good management.

Against the backdrop of concerns about the impact on global warming, the “war against coal” is intensifying:
ANTI-COAL groups led by Greenpeace are calling for the biggest environmental campaign in Australian history in a bid to disrupt and delay the expansion of the industry.
The Australian government’s other priorities for the Earth Summit are ambitious:
  • Food Security;
  • Water Use Efficiency: growing more food with less water
  • Biodiversity Conservation;
  • Desertification;
  • Sustainable Energy;
  • Sustainable Mining Practices;
  • Innovation, Research and Collaboration; and
  • Climate Change.
One of the proposed outcomes for Sustainable Mining Practices is ‘ensuring mining is conducted under sound environmental management and contributes to opportunities. for economic and social development’.

As well as the future of the Great Barrier Reef, Coal Seam Gas has become another explosive issue. Farmers are challenging the rapid spread of this fossil fuel industry. In this case it’s their back paddocks where you’ll find the action. Concerns include the possible degradation of groundwater and other effects associated with extraction processes such as fracking.

Anxious Harvest (Image: ABC Landline)
The impact of visual pollution on eco-tourism in areas such as the vineyards of the Hunter Valley is also bringing protests. Apart from economic benefits, the resultant natural gas produces less greenhouse and toxic gases. There is a useful summary in CSG: what is it, where does it come from, and why is it so controversial? and further research and discussion at FAQ.

The Oz government also has “cross-cutting priorities’:
  • Finance for Sustainable Development;
  • Measuring Sustainability and Environmental Accounting;
  • Sustainable Development Goals;
  • Market Mechanisms and Price Signals;
  • Empowering Women to achieve Sustainable Development;
  • Education and Training: Empowering Youth;
  • Communications and Information Technology.
Let’s hope that the summit can actually work out where the money’s coming from. Experiences with the Green Fund do not inspire optimism.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a possible replacement for the UN Millennium Development Goals after 2015. If you’re not up with living within the ‘doughnut’, this Oxfam video might help:

Governments need to come to Rio+20 with clear consciences and concrete plans for action. We must make sure they are taking care of their own patch of this planet. As I wrote in an earlier post:
Rio+20 needs to be more than a dream. It must come up with more than a platform to negotiate an agreement. It must deliver more that the bare bones ‘institutional framework’. The summit can be a game changer, an earth mover. It’s over to you!
So what’s your government up to? Find out and join those in your country and around the world who are striving to ensure that Rio+20 doesn’t become another Copenhagen. You can also become involved through the Rio Blogger Prize