Featured Entries

Web Analytics
  • Recent Articles
  • Most Popular
  • Most Commented

International Conference ...

15-19 November 2010, Kathmandu, NEPAL The burning Issues on climate change and their impacts – many of which are effectively irreversible – will affect everyone on t...

Everybody is Somebody in ...

Michael Glantz wrote a small children’s book called “Everybody is Somebody in the Zoo” with a moral that can be applied to anyone, “Be Yourself” at 2012. Click here to...

Water Resources Manageme ...

Mickey Glantz talked about Water Resources Management and Waste water Management and Water Quality at the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water, 27 February 2013, G...

El Niño weather threat ...

AN EL Niño weather pattern, which can parch Australia and parts of Asia while bringing rain to South America, may occur in coming months, says Australia’s Bureau of Meteorolo...

International Conference ...

15-19 November 2010, Kathmandu, NEPAL The burning Issues on climate change and their impacts – many of which are effectively irreversible – will affect everyone on t...

Preserving a Giant Squid ...

Jonathan Ablett, Curator of Mollusks for the Natural History Museum in London, discusses how the museum received an intact giant squid specimen measuring over 8 meters in length...

Desert Museum in Egypt F ...

A new museum has opened in the middle of the Egyptian desert, focusing on prior marine life in the region, and also placing an emphasis on the impacts of climate change. The mus...

What is Blue Carbon?

In this quick exhibit from Smithsonian Online, learn about Blue Carbon and its environmental functions “What is blue carbon? It’s a term used to describe the carbon ...

Climate Change May Alrea ...

By Nell Greenfieldboyce (NPR) July 11, 2016 The way clouds cover the Earth may be changing because of global warming, according to a study published Monday that used satellite d...

21 Year Old Leading Paci ...

Sarah Grossman-Editorial Fellow, The Huffington Post THE OCEAN CLEANUP It’s time to see if this activist’s plan to clean the ocean can really hold water. Boyan Slat, a 21-ye...

Polar Bear Diet Changes ...

by AMNH on 01/21/2014  RESEARCH POSTS A series of papers recently published by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History suggests that polar bears in the warming Arc...

Deserts

Recent Posts

Adaptation Learning Highways is a strategic process that fosters information and knowledge exchange between communities, scientist, and policy makers to inform the decision-making process and make it more inclusive. By basing planned adaptation on autonomous community adaption it is hoped that planned adaptation will be more effective, targeted, and responsive to community needs. To do so, the Adaptation Learning Highways initiative engages communities in a number of fora at different stages, namely: community-to-community knowledge exchange fora (C2C KEF); community-scientists interface fora (CSIF); forum for interaction and exchange with policy makers (FIP); and state/regional consultation workshop on adaptive strategies.

Please click here to watch the video and learn the process.

“Politicians need to get their act together on climate change.“ This quote from Chancellor Angela Merkel´s climate advisor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber is almost two years old now and was originally pinpointed at the global warming conference in Doha, Qatar in late November 2012.

img_2589-wide-1024x526

This year’s (2014) annual meeting for the COP 20 (“Conference of Parties“ by the UNFCCC) will be held in Lima, Peru the first half of December. Different location, two years later, controversial topics, but still the same hope for positive results or changes concerning our climate.

But rarely, it seems, does “SAYING,” that is, requesting or dire warning about the consequences of a warming of the global atmosphere go hand-in-hand with “DOING.”

Ever since the first complex of problems or at least the first negative noticeable changes in our climate started to appear, Germany was sitting in the front row of active nations with its eyes and ears wide open watching, listening and proposing strong and innovative ideas to help their citizens as well as the global community. Even though, Germany has mainly been untroubled by major climate disasters compared to other nations, our government and industry have recognized the importance and necessity of a changing climate and that we can support climate protection by multiple factors. On the international stage we have always been a respected and innovative partner…

…But, is our plan of action still up to date?

A simple no would have been too drastic a response, however, right now we are shifting too far away from our focus concerning climate issues.

Of course we are one of the largest investors to push renewable energy sources as far as possible. It is no accident that we produced a spike of over 50% of our needed energy by solar energy, admittedly after a weekend of very sunny June weather this year. Thereupon clouds re-appeared and solar production numbers declined as would be expected. But it shows our ongoing process of investing in our national renewable energy infrastructure.

In addition to solar we see evidence of huge increasing numbers in our wind energy programs and we are very proud of that, no doubt. [Source: B. Burger, Fraunhofer ISE mit Daten von DESTATIS und Leipziger Strombörse EEX – discussing the relative change of power generation looking at the first five month of 2014 comparing with the dates of 2013]

germany-temp

But looking back to the loudly promised “ambitious climate protection goals” set by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007 to reduce our CO2-emissions, we know today that even half way through (until 2020) we won´t be able to keep that promise (if it was even meant to be something close to a national promise or pledge).

Lately, our government in Berlin even received a letter from the EU committee quoting that “the Federal Republic of Germany expulses their commitments” according to our current climate policy actions. We did set brave goals to combat our global and local climate changes, but we all, including politicians and industry partners, need to put our prospective ideas and plans into action NOW.

Of course this is a complex national energy-development issue and no one said it would be an easy one to solve. However, if we can get others to share this idea, paired with broader understanding and motivation, I strongly believe that we can all accomplish a huge positive difference on Planet Earth.

Looking forward to the COP deliberations and negotiations in December, we can once again remain very curious with sharpened ears and louder voices and can promote action-oriented words as the ones above, I hope, if our politicians can agree on a fair and implementable Plan of Action.

Simply put: “Actions speak louder than words,” as the saying goes.

Guest Writer: Justus Morisse (Pfronten, Bavaria, Germany)

e-mail comments to: justus.morisse@yahoo.de

Guest Editor, Robert Ross, at CCB Boulder Colorado wrote an article called “Are Marvel Comics characters society’s current “Fix” for real world problems?”.

Click here to download the pdf article of “Are Marvel Comics characters society’s current “Fix” for real world problems?”.


With all the problems in the Middle East and elsewhere on the globe and the overwhelming lack of humanity displayed daily in the news reports and social media, I can’t help but wonder if society has hit a proverbial brick wall in relating and responding to flagrant inhumane acts of violence. It seems as if our society has unknowingly been seeking a fantasy world by turning to Super Heroes and Vigilantes who get things done by operating outside the law. The amount of political “red tape” that must be maneuvered and hurdled through to even begin to make a difference in remote parts of the globe and at times, even domestic locations reminds me of a circus. Has our admiration of fictional Super Heroes actually warped our view of justice and replaced due process with strangely dressed, abnormally sized figures lurking in dark ally ways?

For years Marvel Comics have been a national pastime through war and peace. The very first Marvel Comics’ Super Hero was “The Human Torch” in 1939, soon to be followed by Captain America created in 1941 ostensibly to give soldiers hope and a figure for Americans at home to rally behind. Through regime changes, drastic alterations in political affiliation and much civil unrest, Marvel Super Heroes, collectively, have stayed the same: A steady, un-flickering beacon enduring the storms of change, offering comfort and in a subliminal way creating a comfort buffer between individuals and the chaotic world outside their doors.


human_torch
”The Human Torch”

Take ISIS extremism in the Middle East, for example. YouTube shows a video of an American journalist being beheaded and it goes viral to the point of even being shown on CNN despite how horrible, inhumane and criminal it was. Many seeing or hearing about it even experience the rage associated with seeing a complete lack of regard for human life, and are left wondering, helplessly, what can be done to help. Send money to families of ISIS victims on the other side of the globe? Write a Blog about ISIS wanton cruelty? Start a riot in the streets? Many people have the interest and most the desire, but few actually have the resources or the ability to venture out of their current situations and comfort zone to get involved. If a catalyst was provided, who would take that first step? Alternatively, many would sit on their couch, pop a soda, beer or pour a glass of wine and tune to the latest episode of their favorite Super Hero like the Avengers, IronMan, or The Incredible Hulk?

Does “Marvel Super Hero Surrogacy” unknowingly replace our concern about what is happening worldwide? Allowing us to become comfortable on a couch, wrapped in a blanket watching TV and slowly becoming desensitized and uncaring?

Having been founded only a few years before WWII, Marvel, the company, had only a little time to sink its teeth into the comic book market, to make a name for itself that would eventually etch its characters’ names into our minds for generations to come. With comics like Spiderman and The Fantastic Four hitting the shelves, Americans were provided with an opportunity to fantasize more about the imaginary worlds of Icarus and Kargool, thinking less and less about the bad things going on in the world around them. Now instead of reading comics, we as adults zone out in front of a TV, PC or movie screen admiring the victorious feats of these fictional characters for their activities that,, when you stop to think about it, take place outside the law. We admire them for getting the job done quickly (in just over 2 hours!) and even rescuing the girl in the meantime. We see our favorite Super Heroes superseding the law with no consequences for their unlawful, but often successful, attempts to right the wrongs of society and government.

My concern is that our infatuation with these fictional characters stems from comparing their successes in fighting evil-doers in the short term to the years and decades that it takes for the law and “Due Process” to run its course. By contrast to the actions of Super Heroes, seemingly open and shut courtroom cases often require decades for resolution as lawyers find technical loopholes and seek lawful appeals to postpone court rulings. Patience is a virtue, but this perceived inaction often makes us angry at the system: we fantasize that Ironman will come and break down the wall and act as judge, jury, and executioner as happens in the movies.


captain_america
”Captain America”

I believe that the high input of short bursts of dense information that we intake everyday has shortened our attention span. Now, instead of being able to sit in school for a 2-hour class, students become anxious and become bored in a matter of minutes. If through this lens is how we perceive the judicial system, then a case that should be closed very quickly and ends up dragging itself through the mud for 4 years will seem like an eternity to a grieving mother. If everyone simply has to head home and turn on the tube to eradicate their need for justice, what does that say about our social responsibility, interactions and obligations?

Indifference to confronting evil and inhumanity by some groups not only affects our personal lives, but also seeps into social circles and weakens political ideals. Hitler quoted that ““To Conquer a Nation, First Disarm it’s Citizens”. Is this happening now not with guns and objects of self-defense, but with our wits and skills of discernment and our ability to think critically about how inhuman actions far away can affect us? Has the printed and electronic media so bombarded us with information and constant bursts of “Breaking News” at such a high rate, that our minds have to accept what is thrown at us without questioning it or doing any research on our own? We have these Personal Assistants (Cell Phones) that can access nearly all the information on the planet and can even talk to us and answer when we address it. This should be the age of learning and advancement, not retreating to our homes or our smart phones and tablets, turning our brains off in front of screens that drain us of our desire to improve and strive for betterment of those less fortunate.

Imagine if all the hours spent watching the movies that leave us wanting for more action and violence that we are so far distanced from, was used for critical thinking and resolving some of these issues that people continually complain about. Because when you really think about it, you can type a mile a minute but in the end you’re only moving your fingers.

Is this contemporary wave of escape into the fantastic and exciting world of Marvel Comics simply a way for us put the aggression and anger on hold, and slip more and more into what has begun to appear more real than the conflicts in the Middle East? It may become apparent in coming years that this infatuation is actually more real to us than the homes we live in.


shirt

Michael Glantz wrote a small children’s book called “Everybody is Somebody in the Zoo” with a moral that can be applied to anyone, “Be Yourself” at 2012.

Click here to download the pdf version of “Everybody is somebody in the zoo”.

Mickey Glantz talked about Water Resources Management and Waste water Management and Water Quality at the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water, 27 February 2013, Geneva, Switzerland. This is the audio of the speech(1,577 kb in MP3).

AN EL Niño weather pattern, which can parch Australia and parts of Asia while bringing rain to South America, may occur in coming months, says Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.

International climate models surveyed by the bureau show Pacific Ocean temperatures approaching or exceeding El Niño thresholds in the austral winter, the forecaster said on Tuesday. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation remains neutral at present, it said. Australia’s winter runs from June to August.

El Niños affect weather worldwide and can roil agricultural markets as farmers contend with drought or too much rain. There’s a 75% chance that one will occur in late 2014, says a report in journal PNAS this month. An El Niño may worsen dry weather in parts of Australia and Asia as Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia are already experiencing little rain.

Winter crops in Australia will be “greatly affected as it’s pretty much the crucial time through that period where they need rainfall,” said Graydon Chong, an analyst at Rabobank International in Sydney.

“That has knock-on effects to other commodities, livestock for example. The availability of feed and availability of pasture as a result of the hotter and drier conditions will play a big part.”

An El Niño toward the end of this year would increase temperatures globally in 2015, and having more time to prepare would help farmers and government agencies, researchers Josef Ludescher and Armin Bunde said in the PNAS report.

About 70% of Queensland state is in drought after its driest December since 1938, while New South Wales had the least rain in January since 2003, Bureau of Meteorology data show. Dry conditions will boost beef and veal exports to a record 1.1-million tons in the year ending June 30 and cotton production is set to decline, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences estimates.

Growth in Indonesia’s palm oil output will be limited in the first half by dry weather, Wilmar International said. Water rationing began in areas surrounding Malaysia’s capital after a prolonged drought, Selangor state chief minister Khalid Ibrahim said. Dry weather may last until middle to the end of March, the Malaysian Meteorological Department said.

El Niño and La Niña weather patterns have historically been severely disruptive for palm oil production, HSBC Holdings said on January 28. El Niño is the most damaging, causing output to drop long after the weather pattern has subsided, it said. Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest palm producers.

While the pattern causes dry weather in Asia, an El Niño typically creates ideal growing conditions in the US Midwest during the summer, which is when the weather pattern is expected to occur this year, Art Douglas, meteorologist at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, said on February 5.

“As we start to get into the middle of the year, that’s the crucial time and when people start watching indicators” including the Southern Oscillation Index, Rabobank’s Mr Chong said today. “It’s really once we get into middle months that we start looking at the impacts in the third quarter.”

Global food costs tracked by the United Nations dropped in January to the lowest level since June 2012. Palm oil gained 3.1% this year, and cotton futures rallied 5.8% and the price of Thai broken white rice, an Asian benchmark, climbed 2.9%.

“Warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely in the coming months,” the Australian weather bureau said in its fortnightly ENSO update on Tuesday. “Recent observations add weight to the model outlooks. The tropical Pacific Ocean subsurface has warmed substantially in recent weeks.”

Bloomberg (2/26/2014). El Niño weather threat to Australia, Asia this year, Retrieved from http://www.bdlive.co.za/world/asia/2014/02/26/el-nino-weather-threat-to-australia-asia-this-year

About 40 years ago in the early 1970s I visited Portuguese Guine, a Portuguese African colony. Today it is an independent country called Guinea Bissau. At that time I was immersed in studying revolutions in general, and mainly the wars for independence in sub-Saharan Africa. I published an article about the conflict entitled “The War of the Maps: PAIGC vs. Portugal.” The title is admittedly a bit strange at first but easily explained. The PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) was the liberation movement in the colony, run by Amilcar Cabral. He claimed that his movement controlled three-fourths of the country, whereas the Portuguese government claimed it was in control of most of the country. How could such conflicting claims be reconciled?

Mickey during the war for independence of Portuguese Guine. January 1973

Mickey during the conflict in Portuguese Guine. January 1973

My study, based on a visit to the war zone, exposed the following: during the day the Portuguese were in control of much of the country but at night their secure positions proved only to be a few major population centers and some military outposts. At night the independence fighters controlled most of the countryside that lay outside of the perimeters of the urban centers and military outposts. Hence, the claims for which side in the conflict controlled what portion of the territory was well over 100 percent. Both sides were correct in their estimates of control, but they did not say anything about the parts of they day their estimates were valid.

This morning during a Starbuck’s coffee I listened to some of my favorite songs. Song #3 was Billy Joel’s “Goodnight Saigon,” about the war in Vietnam.

billy joel captures a wartime dilemma: stalemate

billy joel captures a wartime dilemma: stalemate. Does this song's lyrics apply to the current situation in Afghanistan?

The following phrase caught my attention for the first time:

“We held the day in the palm of our hands
They ruled the nights, and the nights
Seemed to last as long as six weeks…
On Parris Island.”

I got to thinking that is the way is goes in protracted conflicts. But then, who can really claim to control the country: Both sides or neither combatant, because of a stalemate?

I now believe that the force that controls territory during the nighttime rules the country. And to me that suggests that the Allied Forces-backed Karzai government — engaged in a non-conventional military conflict in Afghanistan against hostile Afghans forces including but not limited to the Taliban — are not in control of the country. Those forces in Afghanistan that have secure control over the countryside from dusk to dawn are in control.

I cannot see any way that situation will shift. It did not shift during the Soviet failed attempt to dominate the country. In fact, the Afghan people have defied attempts at control from outsider forces for two millennia. That is likely not to change anytime soon. Which leads to the logical conclusion: Bring home the allied forces and say, “we won.” Otherwise, it is a conflict without end.

(NOTE to readers) Be sure to see the Pickles cartoon at the end of this editorial.

Global warming of the earth’s atmosphere has been attributed to increases in the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide emissions that have resulted from the burning of fossil fuels. Land use activities, such as tropical deforestation (such forests were once referred to as the “lungs of the earth”) are also contributing to the amount of CO2 that stays in the atmosphere.

Global warming and tropical deforestation are “creeping” environmental changes, where today’s CO2 levels are like yesterday’s and tomorrow’s levels will be like today’s. Like the frog in the boiling water analogy, there is no hard and fast indicator for when a dangerous threshold has been crossed with regard to greenhouse gas levels, but once it has been crossed, major irreversible adverse changes are expected to occur. At that point major environmental troubles for society become visible and, with the benefits of hindsight, become attributable to a major change in the earth’s climate. For example, though scientists tell us there will be more extremes, it is hard to see that from day to day. Even under ‘normal’ climate conditions, one must keep in mind that record-breaking climate and weather events are occurring somewhere on the globe every year.

It appears that NO GOVERNMENT DEALS WELL IN ADVANCE OF A CREEPING ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE, UNTIL A CRISIS HAS EMERGED BUT BY THEN IT IS TOO LATE IN THE DAY TO RESPOND EFFECTIVELY. As a result, societies end up having to cope with an environmental crisis situation that is often more deadly, more destructive and more costly than if they had dealt with the less threatening seemingly harmless incremental changes from year to year or decade to decade.

Governments, the big ones especially, are backing up into the future. How to turn them around to look into the future is the challenge that has faced older generations alive today. Despite new technological breakthroughs, trying to get governments to figure out why or how to cope with slow onset, incremental but accumulating adverse environmental changes is an almost impossible task. As I proposed at the Nepal Small Earth Network-CCB conference <www.smallearth.org.np/>, we need to come up with a “Plot to Save the Planet”… and very soon. It seems that developing that plot will be up to the youth to develop, not the climate change negotiators who have become mired in detail (e.g., “not seeing the forest because the trees are in the way”).

I have come to realize, following the conference in Nepal and the first few days at UN COP16 <see earlier editorials here>, that we have to re-think the concept of “youth”. It has different connotations to different people. Teens are youth to other people. People still in a university are considered youth by still others. To many, the young are small, child-like, harmless humans who are seldom listened to until they become adults: but, is that how young people want to be viewed regardless of age?

I suggest that there be a decade-wise view of humans where youth are up to the teens (high school and early college years) and succeeding categories are to be branded as “20somethings”, the “ 30-somethings”, the “40-somethings”, and so forth. One could argue that each of these age groups (age cohorts) are generally speaking more like each other in terms of knowledge, goals, enthusiasms, shared lived history, etc. than they are with their neighboring age groups. The lines separating the adjacent age groups are not sharply defined so there is some flexible overlap.

The above suggestion means that I am … gasp … among the 70-somethings, the age group with lots of information and experience but with rapidly waning power to influence! The 20-somethings (with a degree of overlap with “youth”) are in the process of gaining knowledge, training and experience. They hold the keys to safeguarding the future. They are young adults (although it is often used, I do not like this term as it labels them with a junior status) preparing to take on the world. They are no longer youth, playing in a sand box or youth in middle school, ignored for their thoughts. They are out in the real world. They are increasingly demanding to be listened to and still unencumbered by bureaucratic rules and regulations. So, youth, the 20-somethings, the 30-somethings, the 40-somethings, and so on, of the world unite and challenge those professing to want to save the planet’s atmosphere but whose activities do not support their words.

As for those age groups in front of yours, hold them accountable for their “damnages” to the planet. [NB: “damnages” is damage that a decision maker knows will occur (and does occur), as a result of his/her decision or indecision].

As a final point on this, I would also argue that the 20-somethings and the 70-somethings make the best allies, as the former gain the tools that they need to bargain while the latter have the experiences that can be used to mentor and guide them without expectation of personal gain.

The day I wrote the first draft of this editorial I noted in my local newspaper the following cartoon called Pickles (free at http://comics.com/pickles/). It underscored the need for making explicit the possible contributions, at least in terms of mentoring, that older generations alive today can provide face to face to the younger generations.

A changing climate changes the environment. We know that. But it also may change culture. In a lesson that could have some relevance to human societies today, geographers at the University of Ottawa examined the overlap between climatic change and the changes in tool technology and other artifacts by Native American tribes during three ancient time periods.
Humans have lived on the North American continent long enough to have experienced dramatic shifts in climate caused by ice sheet expansion and retraction that altered patterns in temperature and precipitation. Plant and animal communities changed with these shifts, resulting in new ecosystems by which humans would have relied on.

In a comprehensive look at these shifts beginning 11,250 years ago, the researchers matched pollen and charcoal records with archaeological remains along the Eastern seaboard. They found with every major shift in climate and ecosystem, a corresponding alteration occurred in human cultures.

In the Paleoindian period, characterized by a tundra landscape and a coniferous forest environment during a cold snap called the Younger Dryas, humans were living in nomadic bands and hunted big game like caribou.

The lifestyle changed with the advent of the warmer Archaic period, about 11,600 years ago. Oak and pine came to predominate forests, followed by hemlock and beech as the climate became moister. These nut and fruit producing trees would have been an important source of nutrients, and humans settlements show the rise of semi-permanent base camps, fishing, and the hunting of smaller game.

The transition from Archaic to Woodland periods, 3,000 years ago, shows a dip in temperatures and deeper snowpacks; human population declined during this shift. But humans recovered and well into the Woodland they period began experimenting with maize agriculture, pottery, and permanent settlements.The authors write:

“… our work shows a close correspondence between periods of change in ecosystems and the archaeological record, and highlights the complex and multidirectional nature of human-climate relationships.”

Humans have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to new climate and environmental conditions. In today’s era of climate change, adapt or die is no different, no matter how much we can better buffer ourselves from the weather.

Read More