Clean Energy Shift: 'Elementary School Students Crowdfund Their Own Solar-Powered Classroom'
It's gettin' hot in here: 'Canada quietly pulls out of UN anti-droughts convention'
The Harper government is pulling out of a United Nations convention that fights droughts in Africa and elsewhere, which would make Canada the only country in the world outside the agreement.
The UN body has a research committee dedicated to finding ways to stop the spread of droughts that lay waste to farmland across the planet, particularly Africa.
Scientists, governments and civil society organizations are headed to Bonn next month “to carry out the first ever comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of desertification, land degradation and drought,” says a notice from the United Nations Environment Program.
“Also, for the very first time, governments will provide concrete data on the status of poverty and of land cover in the areas affected by desertification in their countries.”
The issue of encroaching deserts has become urgent because of renewed droughts that have plunged millions into poverty in Africa’s Sahel belt last year and in East Africa the year before.
The Bonn-based secretariat for the UN body said no Canadian official had contacted them about the withdrawal.
In my opinion this is irresponsible and embarrassing and definitely not my Canada. Though I should hardly be surprised. Canada is one of the world’s worst when it comes to tackling climate change and drought is a symptom of climate change.
You can check out the rest of the article here. The bold facing in the article quote is my own.
"If it seems far-fetched to imagine millions of Americans becoming mini energy producers, just look at Germany, where 51 percent of the country’s clean energy production is owned by individuals or farmers, while major utilities control just 6.5 percent of it."
Another brilliant climate themed editorial cartoon from The Washington Post’s Tom Toles. It’s time to put out the fire (s).
(Source: Washington Post via Go Comics)
It’s gettin’ hot in here: ‘Dramatic temperature increases could threaten Canadian health, infrastructure’ (Infographic)
From The Globe and Mail:
In the past 65 years, Canada’s national average winter temperature has risen 3.2 degrees.
This reaffirms what many suspected. Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common.
Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.
Local public health officials are also paying close attention to vulnerable populations as extreme heat and cold become more frequent. They use climate projections to plan West Nile virus prevention – milder winters and springs can mean more mosquitos carrying the disease.
It’s a big deal for businesses, too, although many don’t know it yet. “Or they don’t want to know: They see it as a kind of capitulation,” said Blair Feltmate, who runs Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Project.
It's Getting Hot in Here: 'China to Introduce Carbon Tax'
China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF).
China is among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas and has set goals for cutting emissions. The government has vowed to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output, by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2005 levels.
Check out the rest of the article here.
• ‘China is getting serious about taming coal’ (Grist)
In general, a perfect climate or geography does not always mean an increase in cycling. San Luis Obispo, for example, has very steep hills along main corridors. Copenhagen and Amsterdam, are very cold. All of these locations, however, have a high cycling mode share. Some important factors for cyclists, beyond infrastructure, are the presence of a supportive bike culture and bike education. Even in a city like Davis, which is flat, has a good climate, and has many biking facilities, bike mode share went down for a number of years until a concerted bike campaign effort was put into place.
I was also surprised to find—because it often seems dangerous—that people generally prefer to use bike lanes on major roads. People are also willing to walk and bike longer than planners generally assume. While aesthetics along a route sometimes get more focus from planners, they are actually secondary considerations for everyday users.
These findings show that in places of high biking and walking mode share, people use these modes just as they would use cars in a high car mode share area. Distance to key destinations, connection and lack of barriers matter the most for everyday users. These are the main issues planners need to address to increase biking and walking.
STREAMING NOW: Climate Scientist & Nobel Laureate Michael E. Mann
Infographic | Climate Change and Fossil Fuels: What Do You Think is More Likely?
(Source: I Heart Climate Scientists)
* I’ve got one quibble with the infographic. It’s actually 97% of climate scientists, not 90%, that agree that human activity (i.e. burning fossil fuels, deforestation) is driving global climate change.