Environment Archives

Editor's Inbox  |  March 2, 2007 12:50 PM

Impacts of Climate Change

Climate change poses unique challenges to U.S. national security and interests. Yet current approaches and methods for understanding climate change and its impact fall short in their efforts to help us anticipate and prepare for these eventualities. This white paper is intended to help imagine potential impacts of climate change and the develop alternative analytical approaches for understanding climate change disruptions.

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Guest Analysis  |  April 19, 2007 9:47 AM

Sea Change in the Politics of Climate

By Kelly Sims Gallagher and John P. Holdren

Last weekend, more than 1,400 public rallies were held all across America -- in churches, community centers, schools, town halls, parks, on tops of mountains and glaciers, and even under water in the Florida Keys -- urging Congress to “Step It Up” and commit to an 80% reduction in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 This demonstration of public support for real action against the causes of global climatic disruption was part of a cresting wave of change in the politics of the climate issue in this country.

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 |  December 17, 2007 9:19 AM

For Fairness, Use Formulas

1) For Fairness, Use Formulas Use a mathematical formula -- not negotiations about targets -- to set binding emissions standards for each country based on factors like historical & current emissions, GDP, and population.

Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University

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 |  December 17, 2007 9:28 AM

Strengthen Kyoto

2) Strengthen Kyoto: Expand the idea of binding, country-specific emissions targets that let developing countries “graduate” to stricter standards as their economies develop.

Axel Michaelowa, Perspectives Climate Change (Germany)

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 |  December 17, 2007 9:36 AM

Create Climate Clubs

3) Create ‘Climate Clubs’ : Only the major-player countries need to negotiate, in small regional groups, and meeting their goals through emissions trading.

David G. Victor, Stanford University

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 |  December 17, 2007 9:41 AM

Let Countries Handle It

4) Let Countries Handle It: Allow domestic (but not international) emissions trading, and let countries set their own national limits on emissions.

Warwick J. McKibbin, Australian National University and Peter J. Wilcoxen, Syracuse University

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 |  December 17, 2007 9:48 AM

Be Realistic

6) Be Realistic: Ask countries to pledge what they can with strong domestic support, then rely on public shaming to keep them on track.

William A. Pizer, Resources for the Future

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 |  December 17, 2007 10:45 AM

Forging a Climate Agreement That Works

By Robert N. Stavins and Joseph Aldy, Harvard University and Resources for the Future

Top climate negotiators from more than 180 countries convened in Bali, Indonesia last week to address one of the most pressing issues of our time: forging an international agreement on climate change. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol -- the governing agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gases -- expires in 2012.

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Guest Voice  |  April 22, 2009 12:25 PM

The Politics of Toilets

By Rose George

On Earth Day, let's not forget the dirt. The planet is soiled with sewage, on land and sea. Our waste is the biggest marine pollutant there is, according to the United Nations Environment Program. In the developing world, ninety percent of sewage is discharged untreated into oceans and rivers, where its high nutrient content can suffocate the life out of seas, contributing to dead zones (405 worldwide and counting).

There are dead zones on land, too. Human waste contaminates environments all over the world, rich and poor. Imagine getting up at 4 a.m. in darkness, trekking to a nearby bush or field, and going to the bathroom out in the open. Imagine then being hit by a farmer who doesn't like you toileting in his field, or being raped by someone taking advantage of the dark, which you need to preserve your modesty. The quarter of the world's population without access to sanitation - not even a bucket nor a box - don't have to imagine this. It's their daily reality. What's more, all that excrement lying around has deadly consequences. More children - up to 2 million a year, or one every 15 seconds or so - die of diarrhea, 90 percent of which is due to fecal contamination in food or liquid, than of TB, malaria or HIV/AIDS. Diarrhea is the world's most effective weapon of mass destruction.

That's the gloom. The good news is that it's solvable. And solving the world's sewage mess would be such a bargain that it should appeal to politicians holding the purse strings even in these straitened times. Investing $1 in sanitation reaps $8 in health costs averted and labor days saved. Look at it another way: not investing $1 in sanitation loses you $7. Last year the World Bank calculated that poor sanitation cost Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam between 1.4 and 7.2 percent of their GDP. When Peru had a cholera outbreak in 1991, losses from tourism and agricultural revenue were three times greater than the total money spent on sanitation in the previous decade.

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