Hard Rain Journal 8-17-06: Typhoon Season Intensifies, Canada Starts to Slide into Denial, New Study Offers Insight on Global Warming Impact
By Richard Power
I did a quick audit of some of the world's major newspapers this morning. I scanned the front pages and tables of content for the Daily Yomiuri, the Times of London, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. None of these newspapers carried even one story on global warming. Of course, stories are run from time to time. But the climate changes that global warming is already causing and the urgent need for a collective global response is unquestionably the most important story of our time. Meanwhile, over the past 48 hours, I have come across three significant developments in the global warming story, each one is worthy of front-page coverage:
Bill Berkowitz, writing for Inter Press Service (IPS), reports that conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political commissars are scrubbing information about global warming and the Kyoto Protocol from government web sites, while Harper himself embraces the now wholly discredited, and morally reprehensible position that the "jury is still out" on the "controversial hypothesis."
Agence France Presse (AFP) reports that the Asia Pacific typhoon season, which started one month early this year and has already produced eight storms, including Saomai, the strongest typhoon in 50 years, resulting in thousands of deaths in China alone, underscores the impact of global warming.
The Guardian reports that "more than half of the world's major forests will be lost if global temperatures rise by an average of 3C or more by the end of the century," and that "extreme floods, forest fires and droughts will also become more common over the next 200 years as global temperatures rise," according to a climate change study conducted by Marko Scholze of Bristol University. Scholze's analysis is considered the most comprehensive work done so far.
The political establishment is not providing leadership. The news media is not providing leadership.
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Here are excerpts from the three news items I cited, with links to the full stories:
According to Canada's Liberal Party, since early July, the country's government -- under conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- has been systematically scrubbing its websites of information regarding global warming and the Kyoto Protocol treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions. (As of Wednesday, Aug. 16, when you visit the government of Canada's Climate Change website, http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/, you find the following message: "The Government of Canada Climate Change site is currently unavailable.") Despite its relatively short time in office, the Harper government has been repeatedly accused of following the lead of the George W. Bush administration in the United States. Now, it appears it has taken up the Bush administration's habit of mixing science and politics by purposefully expunging information from federal websites dealing with climate change and its ramifications. In addition, in designing its new "Made in Canada" plan to deal with the environment and global warming -- a plan due to be unveiled in October -- government officials are working in secrecy and without significant participation from environmental organisations. Harper's scepticism about global warming seems in line with the position of Pres. Bush, who has repeatedly claimed that the "jury is still out" on the issue. The prime minister has himself questioned the science of climate change, calling it a "controversial hypothesis."
*Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column "Conservative Watch" documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right. Bill Berkowitz, Information Cleansing, Canadian Style, Inter Press Service, 8-16-06
Global warming is contributing to an unusually harsh typhoon season in China that started around a month early and has left thousands dead or missing, government officials and experts say. "The natural disasters caused by typhoons in our country have been many this year," the head of the China Meteorological Administration, Qin Dahe, said in recent comments...."The strength of typhoons are increasing, the destructiveness of typhoons that have made landfall is greater and the scope in which they are travelling is farther than normal." Natural disasters in China this year have killed 1,699 people and left another 415 missing, the nation's Red Cross Society said last week. More than 1,300 of those died in weather-related incidents from May to the end of July, the government reported earlier. Those reports came before the arrival on Thursday last week of Saomai, the eighth typhoon of the season and the strongest to hit China in 50 years. In the southwestern municipality of Chongqing next to Sichuan, the drought is threatening the water supply for 17 million people, according to another state press report. Global Warming Behind Killer Typhoon Season in China: Experts, Agence France-Presse, 8-14-06
More than half of the world's major forests will be lost if global temperatures rise by an average of 3C or more by the end of the century, it was claimed yesterday. The prediction comes from the most comprehensive analysis yet of the potential effects of human-made global warming. Extreme floods, forest fires and droughts will also become more common over the next 200 years as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, according to Marko Scholze of Bristol University....Alan O'Neill, science director for the National Centre for Earth Observation, said: "Some work in this area has been done before looking at the meteorological forecasts for climate change and feeding those into vegetation models ... this is a much more comprehensive study." He added that Dr Scholze's results would give climate scientists the most accurate scientific projection yet of the future effects of global warming. Dr Scholze said the effects of a 2C category were inevitable. This is the temperature rise that will happen, on average, even if the world immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases. This scenario predicts that Europe, Asia, Canada, central America and Amazonia could lose up to 30% of its forests. Alok Jha, Forecast puts Earth's future under a cloud: 3C increase would bring fires, floods and famine, Climate prediction most comprehensive so far, Guardian, 8-15-06
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Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Weather, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Extreme Weather, Europe, Canada, Floods, Forest Fires, Droughts, China, Typhoons