It is with great sadness that we wish to announce that Alan passed away unexpectedly on January 30, 2012.  He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and the environmental advocacy community.

Alan felt very passionately about the future of the environment.  We hope that his dedication and hard work toward raising awareness for this vitally important cause continue to live on in all his contributions to the environmental advocacy community.  His website  remains a testimony to his passion for the cause.


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Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies ‘could provide half of global carbon target’

Such a move could save the equivalent of Germany’s annual emissions by 2015, says chief economist at the IEA

Eliminating subsidies for coal, gas and oil could save as much as Germany’s annual greenhouse gas emissions each year by 2015, according to one of the world’s leading energy experts.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), said such a move could provide half of the carbon savings needed to stop dangerous levels of climate change.

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Climate, health and food

How to tackle the climate, health and food crises, all at the same time.

Reducing the soot pumped out by cars and cooking fires and the methane from coal mines and oil wells would rapidly curb global warming, prevent air pollution deaths and boost crop yields.

From coal mines to rice paddies and cooking fires to diesel exhausts, 14 highly cost-effective measures could quickly curb global warming and save millions of lives, while also boosting global food production. That is the striking conclusion of a new study published in Science and the most authoritative look yet at the opportunities offered in tackling methane and black carbon – soot – pollution.

The headline findings are striking. The measures would reduce warming by 0.5C by 2050, very useful indeed with the world failing to get to grips with carbon dioxide emissions. And that’s only half the tale. They would also avert between 0.7 and 4.7 million premature deaths caused by air pollution every year and bump up crop yields by 30 to 135m tonnes a year.

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World greenhouse gas flow-chart

World GHG Emissions Flow Chart (click on image for full-size image)

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Natural-gas plans threaten greenhouse-gas targets

Global Temperature History 1979-2008 - NCDCIn a comment made 7:09 PM on January 5, 2012 to an article titled “Natural-gas plans threaten greenhouse-gas targets”  “GlynnMhor of Skywall” claimed “All four of the major global temperature datasets show how temperature increases have stalled over the past decade, and those are actual facts … And no CO2 dataset that I am aware of fails to show the monotonic year-over-year increases at the same pace as seen during the late 20th century warming period.

This was stated with his usual innumerate eyeballing of 4 low  resolution sites, ignoring two of the most dependable – NCDC and RSS. So I  have prepared a mathematical assessment. The graphs and analysis follow.

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Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

Agreements to bail out banks happen in days – but despite some good progress at Durban, we still don’t have a legally binding deal to bail out the planet?

Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

The US and other nations began talking seriously about tackling climate change in 1988 – yet we still don't have a legally binding global agreement. Photograph: Corbi

They bailed out the banks in days. But even deciding to bail out the planet is taking decades.

Nicholas Stern estimated that capping climate change would cost around 1% of global GDP, while sitting back and letting it hit us would cost between 5 and 20%. One per cent of GDP is, at the moment, $630bn. By March 2009, Bloomberg has revealed, the US Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion to the banks. That is just one government’s contribution: yet it amounts to 12 times the annual global climate change bill. Add the bailouts in other countries, and it rises several more times.

This support was issued on demand: as soon as the banks said they wanted help, they got it. On just one day the Federal Reserve made $1.2tr available – more than the world has committed to tackling climate change in 20 years.

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Environment : 2011 rewrote the record books

The ecologically tumultuous year saw record greenhouse gas emissions, melting Arctic sea ice, natural disasters and extreme weather – and the world’s second worst nuclear disaster.

2011 rewrote the record book on the environment

2011 rewrote the record book on the environment - sustainablity, energy and climate

The year 2011 was another ecologically tumultuous year with greenhouse gases rise to record levels, Arctic sea ice nearly equalling 2007’s record melt, and temperatures the 11th highest ever recorded.

It was marked on the ground by unparalleled extremes of heat and cold in the US, droughts and heatwaves in Europe and Africa and record numbers of weather-related natural disasters.

In addition, 2011 saw the world population reach 7 billion, the second worst nuclear disaster and record investments in renewable energy.

The 41 sea, land and air indicators used by the US government‘s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to measure sea and land temperatures showed unequivocally that the world continued to warm throughout 2011. In July, NOAA reported that the last 300 months had all been above average temperature and that the 13 warmest years had all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. 2011 was additionally remarkable, it said, because a “La Niña” event was taking place, a naturally occurring oceanic cooling phenomenon that would normally bring temperatures down.

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Shift to clean energy

The following essay was written by Cheryl McNamara, Communications Officer of the Citizens Climate Lobby. I am pleased to present it here.

Hockey PuckEarlier this month, the world convened once again to nail down a post-Kyoto commitment on climate change. And once again the climate talks, held in Durban, South Africa, generated a cacophony of voices and more finger pointing that inevitably led to disappointment on one hand and relief on the other that no deal has been reached yet to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

At the crux of this struggle between committing to science-based reduction targets and continuing business as usual is the tension between pushing for paradigm change and holding fast to the status quo.

Change tends to scare people. People don’t like to see the world in which they grew up – its views and expectations – shift abruptly. But in order to prevent global temperatures from reaching dangerous levels – which will also trigger abrupt societal changes as a result of rising sea levels, compromised agriculture and so on – we are asked to collectively and quickly shift our economies and behaviours.

Is it any wonder that among those contributing to the climate change conversation is a small but highly vocal group who question the science, despite the robust research, declaring global warming to be a lie, dreamt up by devious liberals to take over the world?

More conservative voices, however, are now joining the climate action chorus, including religious, military and business leaders. The Pope, in particular, has been a vocal climate action proponent, calling on negotiators in Durban “to craft a responsible and credible deal to cut greenhouse gases that takes into account the needs of the poor.” Recently Canadian representatives of 30 faith communities and organizations issued a statement calling for global action on climate change and equating climate action with public well-being.

The U.S. military is also taking a lead, foreseeing security threats that will come with a warming world and continued dependency on oil from hostile countries. Recognizing that clean energy development is critical to national security, the U.S. Department of Defence plans to annually spend $10 billion on renewable energy for military application by 2030. Just as the military gave civil society the Internet and GPS, so too will it help fast track innovations and market development of renewable energy technologies.

The business community too sees the writing on the wall. According to Torsten Jeworrek, CEO of reinsurance operations at Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, “switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the prime task this century faces and offers substantial financial opportunities.”

To facilitate renewable energy development, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) is calling for “a broad-based carbon pricing scheme that is transparent and predictable.” Such a mechanism will help change behaviours, and spur innovation and the development of cleaner energy sources, products and services, according to the CCCE.

Rather than heed their advice, Foreign Minister John Baird declared that Canada will never adopt a carbon tax. Never is a long time, particularly when we are running out of it.

In its recently released World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns countries of “locking into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system.”

Even Ed Stelmach, Alberta’s former Premier, recognized the danger of becoming too reliant on its resources, warning that Albertans could find themselves “watching the global economic game from the sidelines – because our resource wealth made us too comfortable, and we lost the drive to achieve and perform at a critical moment.”

The critical moment is now. Wayne Gretsky famously said that the secret to his success was skating to where the puck was heading, not to where it was. With mounting calls to reduce greenhouse gases, diminishing supply from conventional oil wells, and innovation in clean energy technology, it’s clear where the puck is heading.

Canada has a choice. Either lock into an insecure high-carbon system, or legislate a mechanism that sends a clear market signal to nourish an industry poised to surge, bring new life back to our ailing manufacturing sector, create an abundance of quality jobs, and create healthier communities.

Change is difficult. But not when it generates great benefits. By putting a price on carbon that increases annually and giving the proceeds back to citizens to stimulate the economy we can develop a sustainable society for our kids and grandkids. Isn’t that what true conservatism is all about?

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