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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Alberta Chevy for Toronto Mayor; her re-election plea

Toronto Election News UPDATE: (satire)

by Yuya Joseph 

As the Campaign Manager for Alberta's re-election efforts, I have asked her to write an essay explaining why Torontonians should once again elect her to Her Lordship's chair, and she has been generous enough to provide me with this letter of explanation and vision for Toronto the Mediocre. Here you go:



Elect Me Me Me by Alberta Chevy, Woman of the People

You know I always say, let the people decide, so that's what I'm saying here and why I am publishing my own pitch for re-election. I can't wait for the debates because everyone knows I saved a billion dollars and that's ten times what my family is worth... forget that last bit, for I'm a working-class gal, don't ya know.

I do sincerely apologize for not noticing when developers conspired with the province to shut Ontario Place down. I know I have been asleep at the wheel these past few years, but you knew that would happen, that's why you voted for me. I will not promise to stop partying, why would I? That would mean broken promises and unhappiness all around, and besides, I've already cut way down on the frequency and intensity of drinking parties at City Hall, it's just too dangerous and anyways, it was getting old.

My weight should be neither an issue nor a topic of discussion. I'm a fat chick, deal with it. It is a personal health matter and I ask that everyone respect that. I can't help myself, I'm drowning in public view and everyone wants a laugh. Ha ha. No more fat jokes please.

While it is true that I have been invited back to LA to party with Charlie Sheen and Jimmy Kimmel, my hubbie doesn't want me to go, but maybe I'll shoot him some shopping cash to quiet him down. Everything is about me me me, I do what I want and don't care what you think. I can tell you I saved Toronto taxpayers a pile of cash so big it would reach to the moon, and you'll believe it because you're stupid. If others are in jail for doing the things I did, that's their fuckin problem, isn't it? They used the wrong lawyers (you know which kind you need).

I'll dance and I'll chant for you (but not if you are gay), I'll wiggle my ass and jump up and down. I am the dim-witted jester on the court, the fool in the town, the bumpkin in the Big City, the Champion of Uncouth. Fuck You, and everyone who thinks like you! Trudeau, you too!

I am Everywoman, THE Everywoman. My silver spoon was tainted with asbestos and corn syrup, sure, yet I hear the beating hearts of the people. The great unwashed are my allies, not like those peachy-keen media elites with their anti-perspirants and after dinner mints, fuck that shit. I am the embodiment of the Great Unwashed, and the media hates me for being uncouth, too sweaty and grabby. I know I am not that smart, but my sister Donna, she's got ideas, man. If I become Prime Minister, I'll help her become Premier, and vice versa, or even the other way around.

You see, Donna stands up for me, she was a strong athlete in her day, really pushed people around on the rugby field. When all those people in my office kept suggesting I go visit my “cousin Betty in California”, well, Donna told me to fire the lot of them. She is one decisive bitch, man, you gotta see her in action! What, none of them ever have a drink before? Huh?

About the Toronto Star and all those crazy crack allegations, where's the video? Yes, sure, I've smoked it, who hasn't? But am I an addict? I don't think so, as sometimes I can go weeks, maybe even months, without a single rock. Would Toronto's public prefer I stick to cocaine powder? In any case, no worries, I've been off the pipe for some time now, only lighting up on the occasional weekend. As for the tall kid who died downtown, that was a gang thing, or so I am told... I barely knew the guy.

As for my family, the kids are good, the ole lad is mostly off the sauce and is now only taking pills prescribed by the doc, much safer, especially if you comply with dosage suggestions. As for my friend Sandro, he's a good guy, it's been years since he has threatened to harm any women, so if he's in a spot of trouble now, I don't want to throw him under the subway, he has helped me through tough times. I remember one night calling him in a complete panic when I … never mind.

The drinking is not a problem any more, I have a driver now, and also, my husband is usually sober, and it's been over a year since I last threatened to take the kids to Grandma's house in the middle of the night. If Dean Blundell had not reported on my blowout night at Bier Market, my other drunken stupors may have gone unnoticed. As my sis says, most of these reporters are maggots, get a life. I have slowed down the drinking, rarely drink a mickey in a couple of gulps nowadays, and if I think I am becoming an alcoholic, or if it is affecting my job, I'll just quit. I've done it several times before, works out very well for me. It's been over a year since I was wasted at the Garrison, and things have gone quite well for me since then (other than my crack and cops issues).

I am becoming more accountable as to my whereabouts, my activities, you know I rarely disappear for more than an hour or two now, especially during work hours. Besides, I can't really go to Dixon any more, not everybody's happy with me. Maybe I should apologize to the top cop, but I don't want to. I probably should not have called him a fucking cocksucker, but man, I was mad as hell that he would have cruisers following me around when I was on my private time. If I do not get arrested in Toronto this year, then after I am re-elected, I will ask him if he wants to go to lunch and if he says no, well, fuck him, I tried to patch it up. I'm down with OPP.

How about my appearance on the Kimmel show, huh? I aced it, for sure, people better get out of my way because come October, I get my powers back, so people better watch theirs. I'm going to dig a hole so big it will hold all of the streetcars and bicycles clogging up Toronto streets, now if we could just get rid of the pedestrians – kidding!

Now, let's get straight to the meat of the matter. I realize I should not have engaged in public discussion regarding whose cock I wanted to suck on, but the allegation that I wanted to chow down on that staffer's dick was just more of the vendetta against me, and I was hungover and stressed out at the time. When I pointed out that I was married to a well-hung guy and had more than enough to suck at home, well, that was a compliment. You know, when it's just us gals around, we talk about dick, and my hubby has a big one.

As to the bogus charge of sexism, come on, I have friends that are men. When I spoke on the American radio show about “men loving money” as a present, I did not mean to imply that all males are greedy whores. I believe there are men who appreciate the thought that goes into a gift... as long as it is an expensive one, tee hee. Yes I grabbed that guy's ass but hey, he's a Thomson, and money and power are, what do they call it, an Afro-Dizzy-Sac? Something like that...

I am going to fix all these damn potholes, and how in hell did the roads get so dilapidated, who's been running things around here? I promise that I will, if re-elected, commission a study to see if those potholes are caused by global warming or maybe climate change. If we can prove they are linked, Toronto will have contributed to the science, and who knows, maybe we will even find out what's causing it!

With Liv Chow to the left of me, and John Con to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Can you move over a bit?



Friday, May 25, 2012

Russia contaminating Arctic ecosystem

by  

"I have to see it to believe it," was the reaction to my Russian colleague, Jon Burgwald, when he told me that every spring the rivers in Northern Russia turn black with oil saturated ice.
He sent me the pictures last night from his visit to Usinsk which borders the Arctic and has the unenviable title of Russia's oil capital. Before oil was discovered here in the 1970's Usinsk was a pristine area, with rivers villagers could drink from, teeming with life.
Now the winter thaw marks the annual running of the black ice. You have to see it to believe it .


Jon tells the story in his own words here, describing it as "Russia's oil leaks -- a forgotten disaster."He writes:
We also visited Kolva, one of the local villages in the area. Here the locals told us about their everyday life and how it has been affected by the oil industry. They named the village after the river, which the village is located next to. The Kolva River used to be the villagers' source for fresh water and food. They used to be able to drink the water directly from the river and the fish used to be plentiful. Today the river is more known for transporting ice painted black by the oil. In fact, oil slicks cover almost the entire surface.
There is a famous saying by the American theologian Tyron Edwards that goes like this: " Some of the best lessons we ever learn we learn from our mistakes and failures. The error of the past is the wisdom of the future."
Right now I feel we are at a crossroads. Right now a drilling rig is slowly making its way to the Arctic ocean. It is one of the last untainted, unspoiled places we have left on the Earth. So will we learn from places like Usinsk? Or are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes?



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Will Arab uprisings bring a lasting peace to Middle East?

by Steven Strauss, Huffington Post

The Arab Spring presents a unique opportunity to envision a better Middle East, joining the global community with dignity and prosperity. If the people of the Middle East embrace this vision, America should provide significant support in achieving it, because a successful Middle East is our best defense against terrorism and our best guarantee of stable oil supplies.

The post-World War II Middle East has experienced: decolonization, autocratic governments, the 1948 War, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the June 1967 War, the Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq Wars, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Oslo Process, America's invasion of Iraq, and many other dramatic events.

The current period, however, presents the most significant changes in regional alliances since WWII. To name a few: Hamas' partnership with Syria has ended, Hezbollah is less able to rely on Syria's support, Syria's ability to intervene in Lebanon's affairs has been reduced, and Egypt's cooperation with the U.S. will likely decrease. Perhaps most disturbingly, Iran may (subject to many caveats) become a de-facto nuclear power within several years, challenging Israel with a threat to its existence.

American goals have not changed. The U.S. wants: a stable Middle East that provides secure oil sources; non-discriminatory democratic governments, subject to the rule of law; a two-state Israel-Palestine solution, just and equitable for both parties; and the prevention of nuclear proliferation.

The Arab Spring presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape events to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton's policies (while well-intentioned) have been merely reactive, day-to-day, and ad hoc. And some approaches outlined by Republican presidential candidates would be disastrous (e.g., Newt Gingrich referring to the Palestinians as an 'invented people').

The time has come to shape the future. Consider America's greatest foreign policy successes: Japan's post-WWII rebirth, Europe's post-WWII revival through the Marshall Plan, China's reintegration into the world system post-1979, and integration of former communist bloc countries after the Warsaw Pact collapse. They occurred because these countries shared a vision, and were willing to work to achieve it. The U.S. offered that vision, together with support to make it a reality.

Translating this to the Middle East, U.S. policy could look like the following:

Israel/Palestine: Offer incentives to both sides (paid for by the U.S. and other interested parties) that provide real reasons to make painful compromises. For both Israel and Palestine (conditioned on their achieving a real peace treaty) -- Entry into NAFTA (or analogous trade concessions) on favorable terms to promote economic growth. For Israel -- Entry into NATO, with a significant number of NATO troops stationed in front-line positions (so an attack on Israel becomes an attack on NATO), and reimbursement of costs for settlers evacuated from the West Bank. For the Palestinians -- Payment of all claims for people displaced during the various wars (by payment directly to the refugees), and citizenship in Western countries for any Palestinian refugees who cannot be resettled in the Middle East.

Egypt: The U.S. currently provides ~1.5 billion/year to Egypt of which 80 percent is military aid. Many Egyptians don't want this money, so the current aid package should end. In its place, we should offer (conditioned on Egyptians requesting the aid), a much larger package of incentives directed to the economic development of the Egyptian people. The new aid package should be conditioned on the Egyptian government achieving human rights, democratic and other soft goals, and its support for whatever peace agreement the Israelis and Palestinians reach.

For the broader Middle East: A similar package of incentives that encourages people to focus on improving their societies.

Will this be expensive? Yes. The 1947 Marshall Plan for Europe cost 5 percent ($12 billion) of America's 1947 GDP ($254 billion), equivalent to ~$750 billion in today's terms. However, the combined Afghanistan and Iraq wars cost ~$3 trillion, our 2011 defense budget was $700 billion, and we currently spend ~$350 billion/year importing petroleum products. Real peace in the Middle East will repay our investment with substantial dividends in increased trade, reduced military spending, stable oil supplies and (most importantly) lives saved.

In 1947, America was recovering from a war that killed 400,000 Americans, and staggering under a federal debt that exceeded GDP. The challenges of ending segregation were just ahead, and everyone feared a return to the Great Depression. Congress was controlled by Republicans and the Presidency by Democrats. However, that generation of Americans understood the world needed its leadership, and rose to the challenge. It's time for us to live up to their example.


Steven Strauss was founding Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). He is an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University for 2012. He has a Ph.D. in Management from Yale University and over 20 years' private sector work experience. Steven has advised a number of Middle Eastern governments on various strategy projects. You can follow him on twitter at: @Steven_Strauss

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Methane-reducing "Manhattan Project" a crucial step to survival

Methane and the Fierce Urgency of Now

by Nathan Currier, Senior Climate Advisor, Public Policy Virginia; Classical Composer

With its Koch brothers funding and climate denier affiliations, the Berkeley Earth Project finally laid 'Climategate' to rest last week, affirming the climate data of NASA and others. So now we return to the more complex questions of what to do -- with denial coming from a very different direction. Shining the light of truth onto this denial is a single graph in a major new United Nations Assessment about to be released, showing that even aggressive reductions of CO2 emissions have no effect on warming until about 2040. This is largely because many primary CO2 emission sources co-emit aerosols with CO2. Aerosols on balance cool the planet, but being very short-lived we lose this cooling much more quickly than CO2's warming declines. In stark contrast, the same graph shows that methane and black carbon reductions can achieve considerable impacts on warming very soon.

"Comprehensive" plans like Waxman-Markey could bring mild near-term climate benefits, but 100% of that comes at first from non-CO2 reductions or increasing carbon sinks through risky credits. With recent drought, flood and fire bringing a foretaste of the costs of climate disruption, shall we continue aiming for such a "comprehensive" plan? Politically, the approach has already been in deep trouble. What has not been clear, however, is why it is unwise for the climate and what should be done instead.



Our biggest challenge will be drastic cuts in CO2, perhaps down to near zero by mid-century, as we'll need a planet after 2040. But central to this UN graph is that those CO2 cuts must be decoupled from methane cuts, and the methane cuts must be strongly 'front-loaded' to help preserve near-term climate. The multi-gas strategies value the non-CO2 gases against CO2 using an inappropriate 100-year time frame which undervalues methane by up to 400%, impeding rapid methane drawdown. It makes much more sense to combine methane with black carbon in a separate package for near-term protection. Indeed, we have no choice about this: this is the only emissions policy that can effectively impact the climate changes we are experiencing right now. To claim otherwise is its own form of denial.

In an appeal to developing nations, the United Nations report focuses on measures beneficial to both climate and health, and thus black carbon, causing an appalling number of deaths, is emphasized first. But methane's climate effects are far more certain than are black carbon's, and so while we should do both, we must focus more on methane at first, aiming black carbon cuts mostly towards sources that save lives (cookstoves), while scrutinizing their effectiveness and increasing them greatly if very helpful for the climate.

Skeptics will likely still claim for a while that global warming is not caused by us. They are wrong, but might soon be right: that is, if we let the arctic continue melting, and the methane stored in the Eastern Siberian shelf come out, the problem won't have much to do with us any longer, as even just a few percent of it would swamp all attempts to control warming, shifting the planet rapidly to a new state. So, while CO2 is surely the largest chunk of human-induced warming, the "fierce urgency of now" in climate is methane. We either reduce our methane emissions sharply now, giving ourselves a fighting chance to deal with the CO2 problem over the coming decades, or we seriously risk letting 'non-human' methane push Earth to a hotter state. Perhaps we can finally close the debate with deniers through methane: no one can contest how much methane is stored in the Siberian shelf, no one can contest what it will do if released. And no one should contest any longer that its state is changing: just recently the NCAR HIPPO project concluded three years of the highest-tech greenhouse gas readings yet. Its first big surprise: background levels of methane are rising over large areas of the arctic ocean.

Robert Watson, the former IPCC chairman, admirably started the Global Methane Fund (GMF) in 2009 saying we need near-term cooling and methane is the best way to start. The GMF later joined the U.S. EPA's Methane to Markets to form the Global Methane Initiative, which estimates it could cut by 2020 50% of those methane emissions costing less than $40/ton, if it can greatly leverage an initial $200-300 million. But that is less than half of what should be achievable in even less time.

'Methane Apollo' is my name for what might help us -- an Apollo-like half-decade project centered on massive methane reductions from gas and oil, coal mining, landfills, agricultural waste, and wastewater. Scientists call something that perturbs our planet's energy balance a 'radiative forcing', adding warming if positive, cooling if negative. With rapid reduction of methane emissions by a third, methane should restabilize around 1250 parts per billion over fourteen years, reducing radiative forcing by almost a third of its increase since industrialization. If some recent studies of black carbon are correct, then the methane and 20% black carbon cuts together could temporarily cut by almost half (~45%) all the radiative forcing added since industrialization. These measures should be particularly effective in the arctic, moreover, because of the roles there of ozone and black carbon. Unlike the "350" movement for CO2, the "1250" goal for methane with added black carbon cuts makes for a practical immediate goal.

The total 'cost' would be around $250 billion, but is effectively far less. Some of the methane provides a profit stream from captured emissions producing energy, attracting investment. Methane to Markets leveraged their modest $50 million expenditures by almost eight times. If G20 nations put up amounts between just $1-5 billion, averaging about $3 billion each, then this $60 billion would only need to be leveraged about four times. Let's do it, fast, and let's hope it is not already too late.

Matt Damon: Is safe water and a basic toilet too much to ask?

by Matt Damon and Gary White

By the time you finish reading this paragraph, one more child will have died from something that's been preventable for over a century. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population is still unable to secure a safe glass of water or access a basic toilet. While we continue to rally around the goal of ensuring safe water and sanitation for all, the real question we are left asking ourselves: how do we truly confront this in a way that results in realizing our vision within our lifetime?

Even today, as solutions are known and available, lack of access to safe water and sanitation continues to claim more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

This painful reality has driven philanthropic efforts to help stop the suffering. There are conferences, master plans, frameworks, legislation, new institutions, and even more resolved resolutions. Money is raised, wells are dug, ribbons are cut. But even after decades of charity, subsidies, multilateral aid, and investments on the part of governments and outside non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the system remains inefficient and largely misses the goal of providing relief for those at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) in their daily need to secure water. The intentions are good, but the relief is not trickling down.

On average, those living in slums pay 7-15 times more per liter of water than owners of nearby five-star hotels. This is because subsidies are largely delivered through unrealistically low water tariffs -- if you are too poor to afford a water connection, you can't capture the subsidy. Similarly, if you are a poor day laborer in Port-au-Prince and you want a drink of safe water to quench your thirst, you will pay 250 times more than the cost of New York City tap water. Those who lack cash pay with their time -- hours each day spent scavenging for water from public taps that frequently run dry, rivers, or even drainage ditches. There are nearly a billion people in this trap of water insecurity and about 2.5 billion lack a sanitary toilet.

Instead of viewing this as an ocean of people with their hands out waiting for charity-driven solutions, what if we see many of them, or even most of them, as potential customers. In the past decade we have seen a paradigm shift in how we understand the BOP -- a shift that holds much promise for tackling the water and sanitation crisis. Microfinance has been a catalyst in this, democratizing access to capital. Water.org has tapped into the power of microfinance to demonstrate that its principles can spill over into meeting the water and sanitation needs of the poor.

Through WaterCredit, we have explored the application of microfinance to water and sanitation needs. With the support of the Pepsico Foundation, we have reached more than 250,000 people with loans that allow them to pay connection fees for house taps and to construct toilets. This was done at an average philanthropic cost of $24/person, which, in turn, leveraged more than three times that amount in the form of commercial capital to complete the finance package for each household. We are now taking this to scale with an $8 million grant from the Pepsico Foundation announced last Thursday and a $3.8 million grant from the MasterCard Foundation. We project that this philanthropic capital will leverage an additional $36 million in commercial capital, reaching about one million people. In the case of India, we will drive the philanthropic cost per person served down even further, to $10 by the end of the grant.

Access to capital -- philanthropic, social and commercial -- is certainly a choke point in achieving universal access to water and sanitation. But neck and neck is lack of accountability to those living in poverty on the part of their governments and water utilities. Unfortunately, about half of investments that do find their way to water and sanitation infrastructure misses the mark due to corruption, incompetence, inadequate maintenance, and subsidies captured by those who could pay for services.

The potential of microfinance to democratize access to capital is paralleled by the potential of technology and social media to democratize access to information. In the same way that social media and mobile devices allowed those driving the Arab Spring to find their voice in holding their leaders accountable for principles of democracy, we believe they can be used to allow the poor -- citizens in their own right -- to hold their leaders accountable for investments made into basic services such as water and sanitation. More people now have access to a cell phone than a toilet. What if a cell phone became a tool for the poor to better hold their elected officials accountable for fulfilling their mandate to provide sanitation?

Approaching this crisis in a way that truly yields lasting and scalable solutions requires that we tap into orthogonal forces -- trends that are swirling around us that, at first, seem unrelated to the business of addressing the water and sanitation needs of the poor. New tools have been placed in our toolbox -- often, when we in the water sector were looking the other way, drilling another well. Microfinance and social media are just two examples of these tools.

While the issues surrounding water poverty are complex, at a fundamental level they need to be addressed from the bottom up. Philanthropic capital should be used catalytically to jump-start markets for the hundreds of millions who can afford to meet their own needs if only given the right tools. It should be used to help drive transparency and accountability around public funds already targeting this crisis. It should seek to back those initiatives that can continue to democratize those forces and tools that we in the United States take for granted, whether poor or affluent, in leveling the playing field.

We call on ourselves and other NGOs, governments, utilities, philanthropists, and influencers to recommit to approaching this crisis from the perspective of the poor. This call includes directing more resources towards experimentation and discovery, and doing so in a way that taps into and channels the intrinsic power of the poor as customers and citizens. It also includes raising the stakes by putting the global water and sanitation crisis on the map in a way that it truly deserves. This is a challenge worthy of the next global movement, similar to what was needed to sound the alarm around the fight against HIV/AIDS.

This is that next movement and we are honored to have the opportunity to work with Arianna Huffington, who pledged herself and her team to give this movement an incredible kick-start with the launch of a new section of Huffington Post -- a section that will be dedicated to giving coverage to this cause, the doers, the solutions, and the discourse that is needed to change the world. In the end we know that we cannot fund-raise our way out of this crisis. Ultimately, it will be creativity, innovation, and collective action that will allow us to achieve universal access to water and sanitation, and do so in our lifetime.

Gary White and Matt Damon are the co-founders of Water.org

Climate change escalating wild weather patterns

BY SETH BORENSTEIN , HuffingtonPost.com

WASHINGTON -- For a world already weary of weather catastrophes, the latest warning from top climate scientists paints a grim future: More floods, more heat waves, more droughts and greater costs to deal with them.

A draft summary of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press says the extremes caused by global warming could eventually grow so severe that some locations become "increasingly marginal as places to live."

The report from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change marks a change in climate science, from focusing on subtle shifts in average temperatures to concentrating on the harder-to-analyze freak events that grab headlines, hurt economies and kill people.

"The extremes are a really noticeable aspect of climate change," said Jerry Meehl, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "I think people realize that the extremes are where we are going to see a lot of the impacts of climate change."

The final version of the report from a panel of leading climate scientists will be issued in a few weeks, after a meeting in Uganda. The draft says there is at least a 2-in-3 probability that climate extremes have already worsened because of man-made greenhouse gases.

The most recent bizarre weather extreme, the pre-Halloween snowstorm that crippled parts of the Northeast last weekend, cannot be blamed on climate change and probably isn't the type of storm that will increase with global warming, according to four meteorologists and climate scientists.

Experts on extreme storms have focused more closely on the increasing number of super-heavy rainstorms, not snow, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said.

By the end of the century, the intense, single-day rainstorms that typically happen once every 20 years will probably happen about twice a decade, the report said.

The opposite type of disaster – a drought such as the stubbornly long dry spell gripping Texas and parts of the Southwest – could also happen more often as the world warms, said Schmidt and Meehl, who reviewed part of the climate panel report.

Studies have not yet specifically tied global warming to the continuing drought, but it is consistent with computer models that indicate current climate trends will worsen existing droughts, Meehl said. Scientifically connecting a weather disaster with global warming is a complicated and time-consuming task that can take more than a year and involve lots of computer calculations.

Researchers have also predicted more intense monsoons with climate change. Warmer air can hold more water and impart more energy to weather systems, changing the dynamics of storms and where and how they hit.

Thailand is now coping with massive flooding from monsoonal rains – an event that illustrates how climate is also connected with other manmade issues such as population growth, urban development and river management, Schmidt said.

In fact, the report says, "for some climate extremes in many regions, the main driver for future increases in losses will be socioeconomic" rather than a result of greenhouse gases.

The panel was formed by the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization. In the past, it has discussed extreme events in snippets in its report. But this time, the scientists are putting them all together.

The report, which needs approval by diplomats at the mid-November meeting, tries to measure the confidence scientists have in their assessment of climate extremes both future and past.

Chris Field, one of the leaders of the climate change panel, said he and other authors declined to comment because the report is still subject to change.

The summary chapter did not detail which regions of the world might suffer extremes so severe as to leave them only marginally habitable.

The report does say scientists are "virtually certain" – 99 percent – that the world will have more extreme spells of heat and fewer of cold. Heat waves could peak as much as 5 degrees hotter by mid-century and even 9 degrees hotter by the end of the century.

From June to August this year in the United States, blistering heat set 2,703 daily high temperature records, compared with only 300 cold records during that period. That made it the hottest summer in the U.S. since the Dust Bowl of 1936, according to Weather Underground Meteorology Director Jeff Masters, who was not involved in the study.

And there's an 80 percent chance that the killer Russian heat wave of 2010 would not have happened without the added push of global warming, according to a study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists expect future hurricanes and other tropical cyclones to have stronger winds, but they won't increase in number and may actually decrease.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel, who studies climate's effects on hurricanes, disagrees and believes more of these intense storms will occur.

And global warming isn't the sole villain in future climate disasters, the climate report says. An even bigger problem will be the number of people – especially the poor – who live in harm's way.

The 18-page summary report isn't completely grim. It says some "low-regrets measures" can help reduce disaster risks and costs, including better preparedness, sustainable land and water management, better public health monitoring and building improvements.

University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver, who was not among the authors, said the report was written to be "so bland" that it may not matter to world leaders.

But Masters said the basic findings seem to be proven true by actual events.

"In the U.S., this has been the weirdest weather year we've had for my 30 years, hands down."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn of Inspiration in 71 countries, 719 cities

United for Global Change movement launches October 15th, 2011

The American Autumn of Inspiration is spurring a global protest movement unseen since the 1960s. People everywhere are rising up to let the powers that be know that enough is enough, and the average Joe has been squeezed for too long.

Statement for Canada and Canadians in United for Change Movement

People are rising up all over this beautiful spinning planet to claim their rights and demand a true democracy. Now it is time for all of us to join in a global non-violent protest.

United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future. We are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers who do not represent us.

Time and water are running out, the Earth is heating up, and it is time for a global green revolution, a grassroots movement, a coalition of wonderfully diverse forces with common goals. We want a more humane, egalitarian, equitable, just and sustainable society.

In Canada we will march for legalized marijuana, assistance for the poor, more education and health funding, for equality among sexes and ethnicities, to protect the rights of workers and to preserve our ecological heritage through a diverse, permaculture economy.

On October 15th, we will meet on the streets to initiate the global change we want. We will peacefully demonstrate, talk and organize until we make it happen.

It’s time for us to unite. It’s time for them to listen.

People of the world, rise up on October 15th!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Egyptian-brokered Israel-Hamas deal may be a light at the end of a tunnel

Israel to trade 1,027 prisoners for release of Gilad Schalit


One has to be heartened that any deal has been done involving Israel and Hamas, bitter enemies with no love lost between them. Props to Egypt for keeping the pedal to the metal on this agreement.

The key development is Hamas willing to do the deal without Marwan Barghouti as part of the exchange. It's a dose of realpolitik for Hamas, who needed to play a trump card equal or greater than Fatah's UN statehood bid.

It shows an elevation of understanding from the Palestinian side. They have accepted that Israel will trade more than 1,000 prisoners for Gilad Schalit, however, if they want M. Barghouti as their leader, they now know he only comes back as part of an enduring peace deal.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Arab Spring of Hope, American Autumn of Inspiration

They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
But you wouldn’t know it by me
Every day’s been darkness since you been gone


- Dylan


Occupy Wall Street is off to a solid start and gains momentum tomorrow, October 5th, with major NYC unions joining the protest.

In Ontario, the Occupy Toronto Market Exchange begins next Saturday, October 15th. It will be revealing to see whether anything sustainable can be set up near Bay Street, as the political and economic climate is a lot different in Canada than it is in the USA. Still, with the majority Harper government pursuing antiquated, vindictive, inefficient and overly expensive anti-pot laws, things are about to start heating up.

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