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Ed Webb

Texas shale oil has fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill - 0 views

    Really important for KSA's medium term strategy and prospects.
Ed Webb

'Over-consumption' threatening Earth - Middle East - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • WWF named Qatar as the country with the largest ecological footprint, followed by its Gulf Arab neighbours Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates
  • Denmark and the United States made up the remaining top five, calculated by comparing the renewable resources consumed against the earth's regenerative capacity.
  • "We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal,"
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  • an average 30 per cent decrease in biodiversity since 1970, rising to 60 per cent in the hardest-hit tropical regions
  • the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidising the lifestyles of wealthier countries
  • June's Rio+20 gathering, the fourth major summit on sustainable development since 1972
  • WWF is urging governments to implement more efficient production systems that would reduce human demand for land, water and energy and a change in governmental policy that would measure a country's success beyond its GDP figure
Ed Webb

Why the CIA is spying on a changing climate | McClatchy - 0 views

  • Back in the 1990s, the CIA opened an environmental center, swapped satellite imagery with Russia and cleared U.S. scientists to access classified information. But when the Bush administration took power, the center was absorbed by another office and work related to the climate was broadly neglected.

    In 2007, a report by retired high-ranking military officers called attention to the national security implications of climate change, and the National Intelligence Council followed a year later with an assessment on the topic. But some Republicans attacked it as a diversion of resources.

    And when CIA Director Leon Panetta stood up the climate change center in 2009, conservative lawmakers attempted to block its funding.

    "The CIA's resources should be focused on monitoring terrorists in caves, not polar bears on icebergs," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said at the time.

  • Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who led the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said issues such as energy and water made Bush's daily briefings, but climate change was not a part of the agenda.

    "I didn't have a market for it when I was director," Hayden said in a recent interview. "It was all terrorism all the time, and when it wasn't, it was all Iran."

  • A 2007 congressional oversight report found the administration "engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming."
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  • "Before I started looking at Niger, I wouldn't have necessarily put it as a place that we would be that concerned about," said Joshua Busby, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin conducting the Pentagon-funded research. "But they provide a significant percentage of the world's uranium supplies, and al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is active there."
  • more work is needed on low-probability, high-impact events. In 2003, a Pentagon-sponsored study concluded that if rapid glacial melt caused the ocean's major currents to shut down, there could be conflicts over resources, migration and significant geopolitical realignments.

    "We get a lot of these shocks of one kind or the other, whether it's Katrina or the financial crisis," the senior intelligence official said. "We need to be prepared to think about how we would deal with that."

  • New House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, plans to disband the House of Representatives' three-year-old global warming committee, which has pressed the connection between climate change and national security and held a hearing where Fingar and Mowatt-Larssen testified.

    "There's just no doubt that the support for focusing on (climate issues) in the intelligence community — even energy security — has completely diminished," said Eric Rosenbach, who served as Hagel's national security adviser. "They need a champion."

    If a lack of political support causes this intelligence work to fall by the wayside once again, it probably will be the Pentagon that feels it most acutely. Not only is the military concerned with how a changing climate could increase conflict, but it is also the emergency responder to humanitarian crises worldwide.

  • Mead and Snider are graduate students in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. This story is part of Medill's National Security Reporting Project, which is overseen by Josh Meyer, a former national security writer for the Los Angeles Times who now teaches in Medill's Washington program, and Ellen Shearer, the director of Medill's Washington program.
Ed Webb

American urban lake pollution traced to parking lot seal coat | McClatchy - 0 views

  • A black sealant sprayed on parking lots, driveways and playgrounds turns out to be the largest contributor to the rise of a toxic pollutant in urban lakes and reservoirs across America, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

    Scientists saw concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) going up rapidly in the 1990s in areas of urban sprawl. PAHs have been known as a probable human carcinogen since the 19th century, when cancer struck chimney sweeps, said Peter Van Metre, a USGS scientist and a principal author of the report. PAHs also are toxic to fish and other aquatic plant and animal life.

  • An alternative sealant, an asphalt-emulsion-based one, has PAH levels about 1,000 times lower.

    Coal tar is a waste product of the coking of coal, a process used in making steel. Coal-tar-based sealant is more commonly used in the Midwest, South and East, and asphalt-based sealant is used more widely on the West Coast.

  • PAH levels in dust in apartments that had coal-tar sealant on the parking lot were 25 times higher than apartments that didn't have the sealant outside
    I wonder if this is used in the Middle East?
Ed Webb

BBC News - The world's longest running carbon dioxide experiment - 0 views

  • The marsh is dotted with atmospherically controlled chambers that contain the same amount of CO2 that the planet may be exposed to by the year 2100 - roughly double what it is today.

    "They're like time capsules. We are simulating the future inside them," says Dr Megonigal. "We're trying to travel forward in time by subjecting these plants to the conditions the whole world will be subjected to a hundred years from now."

  • Coastal wetlands are the first defence against climate change and the 60-hectare (148-acre) salt marsh at the heart of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center has been home to some of the most important ecological studies of the past 40 years.
Ed Webb

Jordan's uranium and Israel's fears | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • while supporting the development of its nuclear technology, America is insisting that Jordan purchase its reactor fuel on the nuclear market (it will “allow” Jordan to mine the uranium ore, but not convert it into fuel).  The Obama administration stresses that it will refuse to help Jordan if it makes use of its own uranium, and intends to model any deal with Jordan on the USA's recent nuclear agreement with the United Arab Emirates, who agreed to purchase their uranium on the international market, but reserve the right to renegotiate this deal if another country concludes an agreement on more favourable terms.

    Pursuing its right to enrich uranium without America's agreement would prove difficult for Jordan: the USA plays a powerful role in the Nuclear Supplier Group which monitors the sale of nuclear technology.  Moreover, many reactors from countries outside the USA contain American components which would require Jordan to gain America's approval to purchase. 

    But the USA's insistence that the country give up the right to use its own uranium seems to be a strategic miscalculation with the potential to alienate one of America and Israel's key Arab allies.  While the Jordanian government under reformist King Abdullah can certainly be criticised for its benign and even not-so-benign authoritarianism, it remains a positive presence in the Israel-Palestinian peace process (and the strongest ally of the USA in the Arab world). In fact, it was its willingness to 'help' in the war on terror that caused concern for human rights campaigners.

    Undermining the country's nuclear intentions when Jordan has done more than it is required to do in terms of tranparency and negotiation gives the impression that America will always treat Middle Eastern nuclear projects with suspicion, and that there's little incentive to cooperate.

  • To knowingly alienate Jordan by undermining the country's right to energy independence would be an act of masochism by Israel, particularly when the country's nuclear programme presents an opportunity to develop a model of transparency in nuclear energy development, and a chance to strengthen a more moderate presence in the region at a time when it is sorely needed.
Ed Webb

Free Internet Press :: Iraq's Garden Of Eden - Restoring The Paradise That Saddam Destr... - 0 views

  • Alwash, 52, a citizen of Iraq and the United States, is a hydraulic engineer and the director of Nature Iraq, the country's first and only environmental organization. He founded the organization in 2004 together with his wife Suzanne, an American geologist, with financial support from the United States, Canada, Japan and Italy. His goal is to save a largely dried-up marsh in southern Iraq. In return for giving up his job in California, Alwash is now putting his safety and health at risk.
  • Only 20 years ago, an amazing aquatic world thrived in the area, which is in the middle of the desert. Larger than the Everglades, it extended across the southern end of Iraq, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers divide into hundreds of channels before they come together again near Basra and flow into the Persian Gulf. For environmentalists, this marshland was a unique oasis of life, until the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, had it drained in the early 1990s after a Shiite uprising.
  • Within a few years, the marshland had shrunk to less than 10 percent of its original size. In a place that was once teeming with wildlife - wild boar, hyenas, foxes, otters, water snakes and even lions - the former reed beds had been turned into barren salt flats, poisoned and full of land mines. In a 2001 report, the United Nations characterized the destruction of the marshes as one of the world's greatest environmental disasters.
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  • "Azzam is fighting a courageous battle, but he needs help," says Richardson. The United States has canceled its financial support for the project, and now most of its funding and scientific advice comes from Italy. Richardson estimates that no more than 30 to 40 percent of the former marshland can be transformed into a functioning ecosystem in the long term. But even that would represent an enormous improvement, not just for nature but also for Iraq's future.
  • Alwash and his collaborators are developing a plan for the country's first national park: a protected zone of about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) where the water supply will be regulated with a large number of floodgates. "We are in the process of drafting guidelines for nature reserves," says Giorgio Galli of Studio Galli Ingegneria Spa, an engineering firm in Padua, Italy. "This sort of thing has not existed in Iraq until now." The scientists hope that if the project materializes, it could be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • it is far from certain that the water will remain in the marshes. Turkey, where the Tigris and the Euphrates originate, is building dams and gradually reducing the flow of water southward. There are no agreements between the two countries over joint use of the rivers. And Turkey is only one of three countries, along with China and Burundi, that have not signed the 1997 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

    Much would be gained if Iraq's farmers would learn to be economical with their use of water. They are not familiar with the principle of drip irrigation. Instead, they still flood their fields, a method that was practiced in times when there was a surplus of water.

    There are also other ways to save water. Iraq treats hardly any of its sewage, and recycling water is practically unheard of. As a result, the water that is being fed out of the canals and back into the marshes contains high concentrations of fertilizer, environmental toxins and pathogens. The Environment Ministry and Nature Iraq are jointly monitoring the situation to gauge the effects on the ecosystem and the health of human beings and animals.

  • Can conservation even function in a country like this?
  • "The oil companies can't wait to start drilling for oil in the marshes," he says. "And when that gets going, without regulations, research and monitoring, you can forget about the marshes once and for all."
  • the US Iraqi doesn't share his German colleague's pessimism. In fact, he sees the oil boom as an opportunity. "Maybe we can create incentives for the oil companies to contribute to the establishment of a nature reserve in return," says Alwash.
  • "The first people to come will be the ornithologists," Alwash continues. "Then the people who are interested in archaeology, in the ancient cities of Ur and Uruk. And then the eco-tourists.
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