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Entries tagged "Climate"Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3
October 26, 2010 · By Miriam Pemberton
Since 2008 the Institute for Policy Studies has been measuring the balance of federal spending on the military and on climate change. Here are the results for FY 2011:
Spending on climate change has more than doubled, from $7 billion in 2008 to $18 billion for 2011. Military spending has increased more, though at a slower rate, climbing from $696 billion in 2008 to $739 for 2011.
The result: the gap between spending on the military and on climate has been cut in half. In 2008 the U.S. spent $94 on the military for every dollar spent on climate. In 2011 the ratio will be $41 to $1.
This is progress, but the gap is still unacceptably large, for these reasons:
- The hottest decade on record. The rate of climate change is accelerating, and legislative action to curb emissions is at a standstill. $18 billion in federal spending will make barely a dent in a huge problem.
- Security. The U.S. military has begun to talk about “climate security,” realizing that land and resource conflicts caused by climate change will create security problems unlike any it has ever faced.
- Economic competitiveness. China is on track to lead the world in the growth industries of solar and wind power by next year. It spends twice as much on clean energy technology as does the U.S., and about one-sixth as much on its military, or between $2 and $3 on the military for each dollar on climate.
- Jobs. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Massachusetts found that each $1 billion invested in clean energy technology will generate approximately 17,100 well-paying jobs, as compared to 11,600 jobs generated by the same amount invested in military technology.
The full report is at:
September 9, 2010 · By Daphne Wysham
I’m an accidental radio host. Seven years ago, while directing the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network at IPS, I was invited by Pacifica’s Washington, DC, radio station, WPFW, to host an environmental radio show, together with Mike Tidwell. Like me, Mike had a full-time job — he as the executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). But we both were concerned that the American people just weren’t getting the facts on the climate crisis, which we viewed as the most critical environmental threat of our time. So we agreed to cohost a weekly one-hour broadcast, covering climate change and other environmental issues.
It was rough at first. Though both of us were published writers and former journalists, radio is an entirely different medium. Anything can — and does — go wrong. But bit by bit, we learned the ropes, finally generating enough of a buzz in the DC community to get a small donor to give us an unsolicited donation, followed by a larger donor, followed by a growing number of supporters. With our funds, we hired a producer.
After our producer started professionalizing the show, one radio station after another starting adding us to their lineup. Then in 2006, Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” came out, and we felt we could finally start to get beyond the basics — to the politics of the climate crisis. Before we knew it, we had over 50 stations airing our show, reaching over 2 million potential listeners in the US and Canada, and we started dreaming big dreams.
Then the crash of 2008 came along. And our largest donor informed us in May of this year that they could no longer fund our work. Mike decided he really needed to devote his time and energy to keeping CCAN going. And I, too, wondered if it were worth my time and effort to keep the show going. With no additional funding, I decided that at the end of August we would have to go off the air.
As word got out, one person after another began telling me that we couldn’t afford to lose Earthbeat, and offered to send out an appeal to their friends and contacts to keep it going. I was skeptical we could raise our target of $10,000 in a matter of days — in time to stave off job offers our producer would soon be forced to accept. But they drafted beautiful letters and the money started coming in. Before I knew it, we had raised $5,000. Then a major donor wrote and asked me how much we needed to raise to keep going through the end of 2010. I told her we were $5,000 short, and would probably not reach our goal. She wrote me back and said she would provide the remaining funds.
I am so moved by all of this: By our producer, Aries Keck, who has been willing to take a (temporary!) cut in pay, rather than other jobs, in order to keep the show going through the end of 2010. She believes in the mission of Earthbeat that much. By our volunteer of almost two years, Gerri Williams, who has shown up week after week, in record snow and heat, to help get the show on the air. By our amazing staff and board at IPS, who have cheered us on. By WPFW’s ongoing support of an idea that seven years ago was a pipe dream. And of course by all of you, who wrote letters of support and checks large and small in this time of economic crisis.
I am energized to be a part of a collective effort that is trying — despite the seemingly insurmountable odds — to turn the tide.
June 8, 2010 · By Janet Redman
BONN, GERMANY – When I told my friends that I was heading to Bonn, Germany for a session of the UN climate talks, they bemoaned the general lack of anything interesting to do here. Why not go to a city with verve, like Berlin — or at least one with some culture, like Munich?
But Bonn has at two compelling things going for it.
1) There is a killer museum honoring the life and work of Ludwig von Beethoven.
2) The world's governments are gathered here for two weeks deciding how to carve up the atmosphere — one of the greatest remaining global commons.
The meeting here in Bonn is a follow-up to the better-known climate negotiations that took place in Copenhagen last December, where little consensus was reached within the official UN spaces.
At the same meeting, President Obama pushed through what has become known as the Copenhagen Accord — a statement that largely reflects U.S. positions and interests, which has gained signatures, if not support, from a growing number of countries.
But the accord’s very existence, the secretive manner in which it was drafted and the process for getting governments’ endorsement, have generated fierce debate about the efficacy of the UN as the forum in which to solve the climate crisis.
On one side of the debate are developed countries and NGOs that tow their line (invoking the need to remain politically relevant in battles over domestic climate and other legislation back home). These guys are generally of the belief that it’s impossible to get consensus among 192 countries, and so the UN is at best irrelevant and in the worst case, fumbles any hope of an effective negotiating process (as evidence they recount the image of long lines of freezing delegates locked outside conference halls in Copenhagen).
The proposal by this camp is to pull the key issues — targets, money, legal commitments — out of the UN and into smaller group discussions whose outcomes could be fed into the official negotiations — or not.
On the other side of the spectrum are many of the social movements from the anti-corporate globalization struggle calling for an overhaul of the way we think about climate change and its solutions. This camp sees the UN as a space where political positions are easily swayed by business lobbyists and undemocratic global institutions like the World Bank. They reject the UN as an illegitimate space in which to make decisions on the behalf of those most impacted by climate change — very often the same people who are marginalized by their own governments.
These movements are calling for peoples solutions manifested on the ground in each community, woven together in networks of solidarity and social justice.
But there’s a sweet spot between these two poles. While recognizing the UN’s limitations as a facilitator of negotiations with so much at stake, and that the process which they are attempting to facilitate is between parties that are not truly representative (or necessarily democratic) — the UN is the only forum were all countries that have signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change have equal representation. And as the People’s Conference on Climate Change recently hosted by the Bolivian government in Cochabamba shows, civil society can ally itself with progressive governments to make political and substantive policy interventions in these multilateral processes.
The question that still lingers is whether the chairs of the relevant UN working groups will incorporate people's proposals — in the form of official party submissions — into the global discussion this week in Bonn.