Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brace Yourselves For The Next Oil Price Shock

Looking at the oil supply & demand fundamentals, next year looks like an accident waiting to happen. If economic growth in emerging economies remains on track, and that is a big If, the next oil price shock will occur in 2012.

Dave Rosenberg recently put the odds of America going into recession in 2012 at 99%, but I doubt he had oil in mind when he said that. On the current path, oil is set to hit $150/barrel next summer. Take an economy in recession, add in oil prices well in excess of $100/barrel, and what do you get?

Let's briefly review the fundamentals. Here's the Energy Information Administration's current outlook (STEO, June 7 edition).

EIA projects that total world oil consumption will grow by 1.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2011, which is about 0.3 million bbl/d higher than last month's Outlook, primarily because of higher forecasts of consumption for electricity generation in China, Japan, and the Middle East.

Projected world consumption increases by 1.6 million bbl/d in 2012, unchanged from last month's Outlook. Projected supply from non-OPEC countries increases by an average of about 0.6 million bbl/d in 2011 and 0.5 million bbl/d in 2012.

EIA expects that the market will rely on both a drawdown of inventories and increases in production from both OPEC and non-OPEC countries to meet projected demand growth.

These daunting numbers—1.7 million barrels-per-day in 2011, 1.6 million barrels-per-day in 2012—portend a demand shock just like the one the world experienced in 2006-2007. The key phrase is a drawdown of inventories. This is precisely what happened prior to the oil shock of 2008. If you are forecasting that new oil demand will be met by depleting global stocks, you are already acknowledging that supply can not meet that demand. The EIA can't just come out and say that, of course.
Full Article >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Maldives Government Endorses World’s First Strategic National Action Plan Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change Adaptation

24 June 2011, Bangkok – The Government of the Maldives has fully endorsed the world’s first Strategic National Action Plan (SNAP) that integrates Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

The Disaster Management Centre Maldives has welcomed what is states is a landmark achievement for the country towards preparedness.

SNAP was officially endorsed on behalf of the Government by the Minister of Environment, Hon. Mohamed Aslam, on behalf of the Government of the Maldives on 8 June 2011 who said, “The Ministry has always been working towards risk reduction and resilience for the Nation and island communities. This SNAP concept is prepared in accordance with the necessary strategic plans and Manifestos of the government.”

The new action plan which places DRR and CCA in the development planning of the Maldives is a collaboration led by of the Government of Maldives with support from the United Nations system in the Maldives and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). SNAP is guided by both the Hyogo Framework of Action, a global blueprint for reducing disaster risks which was adopted in Kobe Japan in January 2005, as well as the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Based on broad consultations with key sectors such as housing, construction, environment, health, education, media, development planning and tourism, SNAP builds upon lessons learned from past disasters. It promotes good governance, empowers local communities, builds resilience, and promotes risk sensitive regional and local development. A unique feature of SNAP Maldives is its focus on aspects of governance, and decentralisation, as key for successful DRR and CCA.

The Disaster Management Centre Maldives has welcomed what is states is a landmark achievement for the country towards preparedness.

SNAP was officially endorsed on behalf of the Government by the Minister of Environment, Hon. Mohamed Aslam, on behalf of the Government of the Maldives on 8 June 2011 who said, “The Ministry has always been working towards risk reduction and resilience for the Nation and island communities. This SNAP concept is prepared in accordance with the necessary strategic plans and Manifestos of the government.”

The new action plan which places DRR and CCA in the development planning of the Maldives is a collaboration led by of the Government of Maldives with support from the United Nations system in the Maldives and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). SNAP is guided by both the Hyogo Framework of Action, a global blueprint for reducing disaster risks which was adopted in Kobe Japan in January 2005, as well as the objectives of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Based on broad consultations with key sectors such as housing, construction, environment, health, education, media, development planning and tourism, SNAP builds upon lessons learned from past disasters. It promotes good governance, empowers local communities, builds resilience, and promotes risk sensitive regional and local development. A unique feature of SNAP Maldives is its focus on aspects of governance, and decentralisation, as key for successful DRR and CCA. Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two CARICOM countries get climate change aid

WASHINGTON, United States, Friday June 24, 2011 – The World Bank Board of Directors has approved a total of US$47.12 million to help the Caribbean states of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to improve the safety of their buildings from the impacts of climate change and increase their public institutions capacity to assess natural risks.

The Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Projects will reduce the economic losses due to weak infrastructure, and the risk of loss of life by retrofitting or rebuilding vulnerable structures. Buildings, ridges and urban drainage, for example, are prone to a high-risk of structural failure due to hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

In order to improve decision-making for reducing climate change vulnerability, the programme will support the creation of a regional backbone technology infrastructure that will allow countries and regional technical entities to collaborate on risk evaluations. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Overfishing and Sustainability

Modern Fish Communities Live Fast and Die Young

ScienceDaily (June 25, 2011) — Fish communities in the 21st century live fast and die young. That's the main finding of a recent study by researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society who compared fish recently caught in coastal Kenya with the bones of fish contained in ancient Swahili refuse heaps in order to understand how to rebuild the current fisheries.

Of course, modern fish communities are not victims of reckless living, but of overfishing which has caused an ecosystem-level transition that may not be easily reversible, according to the study. Over the centuries, human fishing has greatly reduced or eliminated larger and longer-lived species that were more commonly caught in the Middle Ages. The remaining fish communities today contain more species with shorter life spans, faster growth rates, smaller average sizes, and fewer top predators.
The study -- which utilized more than 5,475 samples of ancient fish remains dating between 1250 and 600 years before the present (approximately AD 750 -- 1400) -- appears in the current online edition of the journal Conservation Biology. The authors are Tim R. McClanahan and Johnstone O. Omukoto of the Wildlife Conservation Society. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 25, 2011

If The Sea Is In Trouble, We Are All In Trouble

The report that the ocean is in trouble is no surprise. What is shocking is that it has taken so long for us to make the connection between the state of the ocean and everything we care about – the economy, health, security – and the existence of life itself.

If the ocean is in trouble – and it is – we are in trouble. Charles Clover pointed this out in The End of the Line, and Callum Roberts provided detailed documentation of the collapse of ocean wildlife – and the consequences – in The Unnatural History of the Sea.

Since the middle of the 20th century, more has been learned about the ocean than during all preceding human history; at the same time, more has been lost. Some 90 per cent of many fish, large and small, have been extracted. Some face extinction owing to the ocean's most voracious predator – us.

We are now appearing to wage war on life in the sea with sonars, spotter aircraft, advanced communications, factory trawlers, thousands of miles of long lines, and global marketing of creatures no one had heard of until recent years. Nothing has prepared sharks, squid, krill and other sea creatures for industrial-scale extraction that destroys entire ecosystems while targeting a few species. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Localisation Is A Key Part Of The Answer

Last week it emerged that the Department of Energy and Climate Change, whose official position remains that "we do not have any contingency plans specific to a peak in oil production", was actually stating in internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act that "it is not possible to predict with any accuracy exactly when or why oil production will peak".

Energy bills are going nowhere other than up, with knock-on effects across the economy. The fossil fuels of the future will be dirtier, more expensive and from less accessible places. At the same time, the need to decarbonise is urgent. The world's carbon emissions increased in 2010 by a record amount, in spite of many of the world's economies being in recession, and 19 countries recorded their hottest ever temperatures.

In March, Mervyn King, Governor Bank of England, said: "This is not like an ordinary recession where you lose output and get it back quickly. You may not get it back for many years, if ever, and that is a big, long-run loss of living standards for all people in this country." When something isn't working, it behoves us to question whether a different approach might be more appropriate.

One such approach, spreading around the world with great vigour, is the Transition movement. It suggests that within the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and our economic troubles lies a huge opportunity. In the same way that vast amounts of cheap fossil fuels made globalisation possible, the end of the age of cheap oil will inevitably put globalisation into reverse. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

“The CIF's Strategic Climate Fund gives priority to highly vulnerable least developed countries, including the small island developing states

“The CIF's Strategic Climate Fund gives priority to highly vulnerable least developed countries, including the small island developing states" - Maldives' Science Envoy Ahmed Moosa

CAPE TOWN, 24 June 2011 – African efforts on climate action received a welcome boost today with approval of a ground-breaking renewable energy project in Morocco that should be a game-changer for solar power at large-scale.

The 125 megawatt concentrated solar power plant at Ouarzazate is the first project in a regional plan that will eventually triple today’s global investments in concentrated solar power. The regional plan is funded to the tune of $200 million in Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and African Development Bank (AfDB) and World Bank co-financing.

The green light for the Moroccan project came on the eve of the CIF Partnership Forum, which opened today in Cape Town and is hosted this year by the African Development Bank.

New money for the CIF to scale up renewable energy in low income countries was also announced by Norway earlier in the week. The 150 million krones pledge (equal to $US 27 million) builds on recent commitments of new financial support from Australia and Korea.

"We need to accelerate the transition to clean energy while ensuring the supply vital to growth and opportunity and this is a core priority of the Government of South Africa," said Hon. Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Finance, South Africa, in opening remarks at the Forum. "Indeed, South Africa became one of the developing countries to lead, making a voluntary pledge to reduce emissions by 34 percent by 2020." He urged the Forum to be robust in its interrogation of ideas and initiatives and develop solutions that engage all stakeholders so that the interests of society as a whole are taken forward. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Groundwater Depletion Rate Accelerating Worldwide

ScienceDaily — In recent decades, the rate at which humans worldwide are pumping dry the vast underground stores of water that billions depend on has more than doubled, say scientists who have conducted an unusual, global assessment of groundwater use.

These fast-shrinking subterranean reservoirs are essential to daily life and agriculture in many regions, while also sustaining streams, wetlands, and ecosystems and resisting land subsidence and salt water intrusion into fresh water supplies. Today, people are drawing so much water from below that they are adding enough of it to the oceans (mainly by evaporation, then precipitation) to account for about 25 percent of the annual sea level rise across the planet, the researchers find.

Soaring global groundwater depletion bodes a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system, says Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and leader of the new study.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summary Of The UNCSD Subregional Preparatory Meeting For The Caribbean 20 JUNE 2011

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio+20 Subregional Preparatory Meeting for the Caribbean convened at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana, on Monday, 20 June 2011.

Over 50 participants, including representatives from governments, UN bodies, and non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations attended.

The meeting generated Caribbean inputs in preparation for the UNCSD in June 2012. Participants discussed creating a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, the need for a blue economy addressing oceans and related issues, the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD), and emerging issues and partnerships.

Participants recognized that there is much work to be done in the lead-up to UNCSD and little time to do it. They identified the value and benefits in engaging in the process and the opportunities that it represents, particularly in regard to the green economy. The meeting generated interest and momentum within the Caribbean subregion, which promise to lead to further discussions over the coming weeks and months. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Al Gore Blasts Obama On Climate Change For Failing To Take 'Bold Action'

Former Vice President Al Gore is going where few environmentalists – and fellow Democrats – have gone before: criticizing President Barack Obama's record on global warming.

In a 7,000-word essay for Rolling Stone magazine that will be published Friday, Gore says Obama has failed to stand up for "bold action" on global warming and has made little progress on the problem since the days of Republican President George W. Bush. Bush infuriated environmentalists for resisting mandatory controls on the pollution blamed for climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible.

While Gore credits Obama's political appointees with making hundreds of changes that have helped move the country "forward slightly" on the climate issue, and acknowledges Obama has been dealing with many other problems, he says the president "has simply not made the case for action."
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Electricity demand

FIJI will continue to rely on diesel-based power generation for some time despite efforts in developing renewable energy resources such as hydro-electricity projects.

According to the Permanent Secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities Cama Tuiloma, this is because of the huge demand for electricity far exceeds what can be produced via renewable energy projects in place.

"For a small economy like Fiji, the effects of such consumption and expenditures can be devastating, and also means reduced budgets for critical social concerns such as infrastructure, education and health," he said while addressing delegates at a workshop in renewable energy held at the Hexagon International Hotel Villas and Spa in Nadi yesterday.

Mr Tuiloma said Fiji, along with small island developing states (SIDS) in the Pacific region, failed to recognise the impact of heavy dependence and vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products.

"In the past decade, our petroleum imports have moved from around $400 million in 2004 to a little over $1.2 billion dollars in 2008. That equates to a quarter of our total imports, and the alarming fact is that our energy consumption had tripled in that period of four years. Fiji's imports stood at around 563 million litres of imported mineral fuels in 2009."

"Our dependence and vulnerability to worldwide price fluctuations on imported petroleum products is therefore of great concern to Government and we are developing and implementing our renewable energy policy and programs to reduce our dependence and import of petroleum fuels and to increase the renewable energy share in energy supply in the country," Mr Tuiloma said. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, June 20, 2011

UN talks must save Kyoto or 'collapse': AOSIS

BONN — UN talks struggling to forge a response to global warming must salvage the embattled Kyoto Protocol or risk collapse, the head of a 43-nation bloc of island nations said Friday.

"Some countries are willing to commit to a second commitment period," said Grenada's Dessima Williams, chair of the the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
"It is not anywhere near the full coverage that will be needed," she told AFP on the sidelines of a negotiating session of the 194-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ending Friday.

"However, it is either that or the complete collapse of the system."
Kyoto, which covers 37 industrialised countries, is the only international deal with binding targets for curbing greenhouse gases.
A first commitment period expires at the end of 2012, and the fate of the treaty remains in limbo. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics

Post-Growth Geopolitics

As nations compete for currency advantages, they are also eyeing the world’s diminishing resources—fossil fuels, minerals, agricultural land, and water. Resource wars have been fought since the dawn of history, but today the competition is entering a new phase.

Nations need increasing amounts of energy and materials to produce economic growth, but—as we have seen—the costs of supplying new increments of energy and materials are increasing. In many cases all that remains are lower-quality resources that have high extraction costs. In some instances, securing access to these resources requires military expenditures as well. Meanwhile the struggle for the control of resources is re-aligning political power balances throughout the world.

The U.S., as the world’s superpower, has the most to lose from a reshuffling of alliances and resource flows. The nation’s leaders continue to play the game of geopolitics by 20th century rules: They are still obsessed with the Carter Doctrine and focused on petroleum as the world’s foremost resource prize (a situation largely necessitated by the country’s continuing overwhelming dependence on oil imports, due in turn to a series of short-sighted political decisions stretching back at least to the 1970s). The ongoing war in Afghanistan exemplifies U.S. inertia: Most experts agree that there is little to be gained from the conflict, but withdrawal of forces is politically unfeasible. More >>>

This article is the part 6 from Chapter 5 of Richard Heinberg's new book 'The End of Growth', which is set for publication by New Society Publishers in August 2011. This chapter 'Shrinking Pie: Competition and Relative Growth in a Finite World' looks in greater depth at the prospects for further development in in an increasingly resource strained environment.

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Perfect Storm for Hunger: New Oxfam report tackles broken food system

The global food system is broken,” reads a new report from Oxfam International.

While much of Growing a Better Future: Food Justice in a Resource-Constrained World essentially reviews the major factors that contribute to food insecurity, Oxfam’s call to transform the food system is certainly timely, given this year’s high food prices (blamed in part for inflaming popular revolts in the Middle East) and fears of another global food crisis.

Despite producing enough food for everyone, one in seven people globally face chronic under-nutrition and almost one billion people are food insecure. Hunger is concentrated within rural areas in developing countries, and within families, women are often disproportionally affected, having serious implications for maternal and child health.

“We face three interlinked challenges in an age of growing crisis: feeding nine billion without wrecking the planet; finding equitable solutions to end disempowerment and injustice; and increasing our collective resilience to shocks and volatility,” write the authors of the report. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Jamaica’s Coastal Capital at Risk: Report from the Field

A new economic valuation shows what Jamaica’s economy stands to lose if its coral reefs decline further.

Last week, I traveled to Jamaica with my colleagues Lauretta Burke and Benjamin Kushner to launch a new analysis called Coastal Capital: Jamaica – The Economic Contribution of Jamaica’s Coral Reefs. We spent several rainy days in Kingston, where we launched the report at two events, met with many members of Jamaica’s environmental community, and sampled delicious (but spicy) Jamaican cuisine. The sun came out near the end of the week, which allowed us to get out to the beach and see some coral reefs before heading back home.

Our first stop was the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals’ (JIEP) bi-annual conference in Kingston. This year’s conference theme was “Balancing National Development and Environmental Protection,” and WRI officially launched Coastal Capital: Jamaica. We followed this launch event with a three-hour seminar on our results at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus. More than 80 people attended the two events, including some of the key players in environmental policy and coastal management in the country. Two of Jamaica’s national newspapers also covered the report, headlining the importance of the country’s coral reefs to its tourism and fishing industries. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Will Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Mean for Barrier Islands?

ScienceDaily (June 16, 2011) — A new survey of barrier islands published earlier this spring offers the most thorough assessment to date of the thousands of small islands that hug the coasts of the world's landmasses.

The study, led by Matthew Stutz of Meredith College, Raleigh, N.C., and Orrin Pilkey of Duke University, Durham, N.C., offers new insight into how the islands form and evolve over time -- and how they may fare as the climate changes and sea level rises.

The survey is based on a global collection of satellite images from Landsat 7 as well as information from topographic and navigational charts. The satellite images were captured in 2000, and processed by a private company as part of an effort funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

During the 20th century, sea level has risen by an average of 1.7 millimeters (about 1/16 of an inch) per year. Since 1993, NASA satellites have observed an average sea level rise of 3.27 millimeters (about 1/8 of an inch) per year. A better understanding of how climate change and sea level rise are shaping barrier islands will also lead to a more complete grasp of how these dynamic forces are affecting more populated coastal areas.

Stutz, the study's lead author, highlighted a series of key findings from the new survey during an interview with a NASA science writer. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

IRENA and Partners Review Tonga Energy Road Map

3 June 2011: The first annual review meeting of the 2010-2020 Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) took place on 23-24 May 2011, in Vava’u, Tonga, bringing together representatives from the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Australia, China, the EU and New Zealand, as well as development partners and regional organisations (including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), IUCN, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Pacific Power Association), to review progress made and chart the way forward.

The TERM is a ten-year road map that aims to reduce Tonga’s vulnerability to high oil import costs and enhance access to modern energy services in an environmentally-sustainable manner. In 2009/2010 IRENA, together with the Government of Tonga, developed an off-grid component of the TERM with the objective of providing Tonga’s outer island communities with access to renewable electricity. More >>>

Location: Cayman islands

Will Small Island Developing States secure funding from UNESCO?

Securing funding for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) fight against Climate Change was one of the critical issues discussed at the 186th Session of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board.

According to Senator Franka Alexis-Bernadine who led Grenada’s delegation to the three-week meeting, this critical issue has created a bit of controversy among larger members of the UNESCO Executive Board.
“The larger countries…seemed to have been lobbying the Secretary-General to move away from this ethical issue to focus more on other issues,” she said not revealing the identity of those countries due to existing diplomatic relations.

“You can see your funding slipping away right before your eyes as the bigger countries; one of which is from Latin America…convince the team on the ground that in actual fact this was no longer a priority for Small Island Developing States,” she said as she explained some of the subtleties that occurred at the meeting.

Grenada, Barbados and St Lucia are the only three islands representing the entire Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at UNESCO. Determined to lobby at all cost Senator Bernadine who is also Grenada’s Minister for Education said that they stood their ground and she said eventually the Board, “realized that our stance was not going to change in that regard.” More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Joint Efforts to Map Water Levels Across Arab Countries

June 9, 2011—Across and within Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon, water levels in reservoirs and rivers, rainfall patterns and soil moisture will be mapped by satellites high overhead.

This new view of water systems will allow leaders to monitor local and regional drought and flood conditions, track evaporation from lakes and reservoirs, and even estimate future water supplies and crop yields.
This new project, financed by the World Bank’s Global Environmental Facility, is the first in a series of investments under the Arab World Initiative approved by the World Bank Board of Directors.

In the past, information on water has come from people and equipment on the ground. But collecting data in the field is often expensive and difficult to gather and verify. Satellite images can provide a unique view, across mountains and borders, and provide it almost instantly.

Not Enough Water-20% Less
Water supplies have a major impact on agriculture and the environment. A steady water supply is also essential for city life. Cities are growing in size and population throughout the region. And, because of climate change, experts predict an increasingly dry future. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that rainfall in many parts of the region will decrease by over 20% during the next century. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Editorial: Mr. President - Are you insane or just blind.

With the greatest respect I would like to ask all world leaders "Are you insane or just blind?"

The world is beset by a perfect storm of peak oil, climate change and an out of control population. all of which are potential conflict triggers.

The high cost and apparently constrained supplies of petroleum are causing blackouts, rolling brownouts and falling productivity in over fifty countries around the globe as I write this.

Climate change has the potential, given the expected rise in average global temperatures, to raise sea level by one metre by the end of the century, inundating islands, coastal plains and deltas around the globe.

Changes in rainfall patterns along with the melting of glaciers could disrupt food production in many of the worlds most populous countries causing famine. Droughts are now evident in states around the world. China is building canal over 1700 kilometers long in an attempt to bring water to water stressed northern areas of the country. Agriculture accounts for at least 70% of a countries water usage. South Asia which is home to well over one fifth of the world's population, is dependent on the seasonal monsoon rains for much of their food production as well as glacial melt water which is the source of the major rivers in the region. As temperatures rise the glaciers will melt, and if the rainfall patterns change millions may perish.

We could see refugee flows the likes of which have never been seen in recorded history, caused by any or all of the above scenarios. Climate Change Refugees will flow from areas of famine to areas where there is food. They will do so legally or illegally and they will be forced to do so even if it costs them their life.

No country can mitigate or adapt to the coming changes on its own. The only way that the human race can survive with a reasonably tolerable level of civilization is by working together. We no longer have time for political bickering, posturing or arguing within states or between states.

The time is now. We have to protect the major portions of the global commons, the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere. Humans need these to survive, we need the plants, the animals, the insects. We are dependent on all of it, we cannot survive without a healthy planet.

We are today, more than at any time in the history of the human race, our brothers and sisters keepers.

The Editor

Location: The Cayman Islands

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Karma of Electric Vehicles

MALIBU, California, June 9, 2011 (ENS) - Large environmental problems like the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico still occupy center stage, but an even bigger solution to the planet's environmental woes is rapidly approaching.

Vehicle electrification can ease dependence on polluting petroleum that is heating up the planet, yet many people are not fully informed on how electric vehicles will fit into their lives. One information gap is public understanding of the important fit between electric vehicles and the smart grid.

A game-changing research paper that addresses this gap, "Vehicle Electrification: Status and Issues," has just been published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the special Smart Grid issue of the Proceedings of the IEEE. It shows how to change the energy equation and serves as a reference source to understand electric vehicles from a whole systems perspective. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Climate change: major impacts on water for farming

New FAO survey sums up current scientific understanding of impacts, highlights knowledge gaps and areas for attention

Rome - Climate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come, warns a new FAO report.

Climate Change, Water, and Food Security is a comprehensive survey of existing scientific knowledge on the anticipated consequences of climate change for water use in agriculture.

These include reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharges in the Mediterranean and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa -- regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and mountain glaciers for water will also be affected, while heavily populated river deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced water flows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels.

Additional impacts described in the report:

An acceleration of the world’s hydrological cycle is anticipated as rising temperatures increase the rate of evaporation from land and sea. Rainfall will increase in the tropics and higher latitudes, but decrease in already dry semi-arid to mid-arid latitudes and in the interior of large continents. A greater frequency in droughts and floods will need to be planned for but already, water scarce areas of the world are expected to become drier and hotter.

Even though estimates of groundwater recharge under climate change cannot be made with any certainty, the increasing frequency of drought can be expected to encourage further development of available groundwater to buffer the production risk for farmers.

And the loss of glaciers - which support around 40 percent of the world’s irrigation -- will eventually impact the amount of surface water available for agriculture in key producing basins

Increased temperatures will lengthen the growing season in northern temperate zones but will reduce the length almost everywhere else. Coupled with increased rates of evapotranspiration this will cause the yield potential and water productivity of crops to decline.

"Both the livelihoods of rural communities as well as the food security of city populations are at risk" said FAO Assistant Director General for Natural Resources, Alexander Mueller. "But the rural poor, who are the most vulnerable, are likely to be disproportionately affected". More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Redefining Marine Territories in a Changing World

From a purely territorial perspective, these are bullish times for the world's oceans.

As anthropogenic climate change picks up pace, seas around the world are rising, due to thermal expansion and the melting of alpine glaciers and arctic ice sheets; according to most scientists, by at least a meter by the year 2100.
As a result, low-lying coastal areas around the world, and in several cases entire island nations, are expected to be reclaimed by the sea. Global sea level rise complicates the resolution of questions that have presented geopolitical difficulties for centuries: who owns the sea, and how much of it do they own? According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), concluded in 1982, countries have exclusive control over their seabed materials out to the extent of their continental shelf (but with a minimum of 200, and maximum of 350, Nautical miles from their coastline). In addition, they have broader control over marine resources (including, crucially, fishing stocks) in an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending 200 nautical miles from the low-water mark on their coastlines. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sustainable development must be as much blue as it is green

Seychelles' Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ronny Jumeau, has reminded a United Nations debate on the pathway to sustainable development that the world's oceans, coasts, and small island countries must be included in the concept of a green economy.

Speaking at the informal debate in the UN General Assembly on the challenges of the green economy held on June 2, Amb. Jumeau stressed that what the small island developing states (SIDS) described as a "blue economy" must be part and parcel of the concept, definition, and development of a climate- and environment-friendly green economy.

"This is something we in the small islands talk about a lot but do not hear about enough," Ambassador Jumeau said, “We cannot build a new eco-friendly and sustainable world economy without factoring in and caring for the oceans, which would require integrating the SIDS.”

He later explained that the push by the SIDS for the "blue" economy to be incorporated within the concept of the global green economy is essentially to ensure that the oceans and marine resources, and consequently the small islands as large ocean territories, are not forgotten or left behind. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lessons For Future Action” Ends with Adoption of MOU between SPREP and 5C’s

26 May 2001: A conference on "Lessons for Future Action," which took place in Apia, Samoa, emphasized the urgency of climate change adaptation and future decisions affecting small island developing States (SIDS), given the threat of natural disasters.

At the end of the Conference, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5C’s) adopted a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Through the MOU, the Caribbean will for the first time have a joint and side event sponsored by SPREP at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, which will convene later this year in Durban, South Africa.

Speaking at the Conference, Michael Taylor, University of West Indies, discussed community perceptions of and responses to climate change and risk and highlighted the role of science that enables critical evaluation of the core climate change message. Speaking about renewable energy, Al Binger, Science Advisor, Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), emphasized that effective adaptation would be very difficult without transformation of the energy sector to make significant financial resources available. More >>>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, June 6, 2011

Countries get guidance on climate change financing

NEW YORK, United States, Friday June 3, 2011 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a guidebook that provides advice to decision-makers in developing countries, like those in the Caribbean, on how to tap into growing environmental finance markets as funding becomes increasingly available to tackle the challenges of climate change.

The guidebook, entitled “Catalysing Climate Finance,” draws on UNDP’s experience managing hundreds of climate projects in 140 countries over the past two decades. It contains step-by-step guidance for identifying and implementing a mixture of public policies and funding instruments to raise climate finance.

“In the absence of effective capacity building and appropriate advisory services, there’s a significant risk that only a few emerging economies will fully benefit from these positive developments,” UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan said yesterday.

“By some estimates around 90 percent of investments in clean energy go to G20 [Group of 20 economies] countries and the remaining 10 percent go to the rest of the world.” More >>>
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Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Climate to wreak havoc on food supply, predicts repor

Some areas in the tropics face famine because of failing food production, an international research group says.

The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) predicts large parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be worst affected.

Its report points out that hundreds of millions of people in these regions are already experiencing a food crisis.

"We are starting to see much more clearly where the effects of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty," said Patti Kristjanson, an agricultural economist with the CCAFS initiative that produced the report.

A leading climatologist told BBC News that agriculturalists had been slow to use global climate models to pinpoint regions most affected by rising temperatures.

This report is the first foray into the field by the CCAFS initiative. To assess how climate change will affect the world's ability to feed itself, CCAFS set about finding hotspots of climate change and food insecurity.

Focusing their search on the tropics, the researchers identified regions where populations are chronically malnourished and highly dependent on local food supplies.

Then, basing their analysis on the climate data amassed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team predicted which of these food-insecure regions are likely to experience the greatest shifts in temperature and precipitation over the next 40 years.
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Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, June 3, 2011

Event: 2nd World Congress on Cities and Adaption to Climate Change

The Resilient Cities 2011 congress is being held in Bonn, Germany 3 - 5 June.

The Resilient Cities 2011 official website is:
The Resilient Cities 2011 congress will be documented on their website. Here you can find all resources and information (photos, speeches, press releases) available for download*. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

The Peak Oil Crisis: An Announcement

With little fanfare, a press release appeared last week on the website of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The release said that during a meeting between Chris Huhne, the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and representatives of ITPOES, an agreement had been reached that Her Majesty's Department for Energy and Climate will collaborate with ITPOES on a joint examination of concerns that global oil supply will begin to fall behind demand within as little as five years. This collaboration is seen by the British government as the first step in the development of a national peak oil contingency plan.
There are many implications buried in this seemingly innocuous announcement.

First, American readers should note that the British government recognizes that energy policy and climate change are inextricably linked so that you cannot formulate policies for one without the other. The major step forward, however, is the official and semi-public recognition by a major government that global oil supplies will fall behind demand in as little as five years. After years of official denial this is indeed a breakthrough worthy of note.

Gone is the rhetoric about the billions of barrels of oil remaining that will last for so many decades that nobody alive today needs to worry. Official recognition has been given to the concept that the remaining oil will be so expensive to extract or will be locked into the earth by intractable political disputes, so that it simply will not be available in the unlimited quantities or at the prices we have known for the last 100 years.
Also implicit in the announcement is that ever-rising real energy costs will destabilize nearly all of the world's economies and that economic growth in the form we have come to know it will no longer be possible.

Location: Lawrence Bl, Cayman Islands

Editorial: Global Energy Shortages

I have just looked at my RSS News Feed under the heading of Energy Shortages and noticed that there are fifty-eight articles from around the world this morning.

These range from utilities in China that are financially struggling to rolling blackouts in Venezuela and Pakistan, to South Africa seeking to cut power consumption by thirteen percent.
This is a world-wide problem, Russia has banned the export of gasoline, which prompted Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to ban exports of refined petroleum products late last month, especially as the country gears up for State Duma elections in December and Presidential elections in the spring of 2011. In Karachi, Pakistan a protester was killed demonstrating against load shedding.

It may just be my imagination but I detect a global trend in all these reports which only reinforces the theory of Peak Oil.

In the Cayman Islands households are billed monthly, with a breakdown between electricity consumed and the cost of fuel used to generate the consumed amount of electricity shown on the invoice. I have people telling me on a daily basis that their fuel charge is more than the electrical charge.

If oil is abundant as OPEC claims why are so many stares globally having these overwhelming energy shortages? One could argue that it is the financial aspect of obtaining petroleum products that is to blame. However, one must ask why the price is escalating. Could it possible be a supply and demand situation?
It really does not matter wether it is unaffordable or unattainable it still leads to a shortage of electricity for all of us. It is therefore time to push of governments and legislators to take the necessary steps to enable the introduction of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and ocean thermal conversion.

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cities Lead on Climate Problems, and Actions

New Report Analyzes Urban Areas Across the World..

Cities are emerging as most threatened by climate change, and as the first responders to it, says a new international report. The report, led by researchers at Columbia University and the City University of New York (CUNY), is the most comprehensive study to date detailing the risks cities face, and how they are preparing for impacts such as increased heat waves, drought and rising sea level. Authors from 50 cities looked at urban areas in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America, doing in-depth analyses of Athens, Dakar, Delhi, Harare, Kingston, London, Melbourne, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai, Tokyo and Toronto.

Cities are now home to half the world’s population, the authors note. “This is a groundbreaking study that should serve as a wake-up call about the need to make cities a key focus of global climate change research and response efforts,” said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climate impacts scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Center for Climate Systems Research, part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, who is one of the coeditors. Published by Cambridge University Press, the report was convened by the Urban Climate Change Research Network, a global coalition of researchers specializing in climate change from an urban perspective. The initiative was founded at the Earth Institute in 2007.
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Location:Sandalwood Crescent,George Town,Cayman Islands

Big Wave, Big Picture

Beneath the surface of tsunamis’ past, present and future

Yellowstone National Park’s “supervolcano” is 20,000 years past due for a major eruption, at least that’s what alarmists will say. In 2003, a 4.4 magnitude earthquake occurred just nine miles southeast of the entrance to the park, and Marshall Masters, publisher for [], a science-fiction based website, speculates, “Simply put, anyone living within 600 miles of Yellowstone could be sitting in a modern-day Pompeii.”

So what do these crazy theories have to do with us?

According to tsunami experts, once a huge volcano starts exploding, magma is pushed quickly into the geologic “plumbing” system lying underneath. In coastal areas, like Hawaii, this can produce huge tsunamis.

Take for example the catastrophic tsunami of December 2004, when the fourth most powerful undersea earthquake in history killed 230,000 people in Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake unleashed a tsunami so powerful that it moved the entire island 100 feet to the southwest. And most recently, after a 9.0 earthquake crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant this year, a tsunami hit Sendai 25 minutes later. More than 27,500 people were left dead or missing three weeks after the quake.

What We’ve Learned…so far

Shortly after the recent Japanese tsunami, Kwok Fai Cheung, a professor at UH–Manoa’s Department of Ocean and Resources Engineering updated inundation maps provided to the county civil defense agencies as a “worst case scenario” for Hawaii’s next tsunami. The study is based on the largest Pacific-based tsunamis that have occurred during the last century, and on studies from earthquake hotspots throughout the Islands. Cheung’s research is also based on maps of five historic earthquakes that led to five deadly tsunamis in Kamchatka Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and Chile.

In 1989, Hawaii was the first state to devise official tsunami evacuation zones, according to George Curtis, a Hawaii County tsunami advisor and semi-retired UH-Manoa professor. “If you are in an evacuation zone, you move out, and you are safe,” Curtis says. “It doesn’t matter where [a person] moves, as long as they get out of the evacuation zone.”

Evacuation zones are based on predicted maximum inundation levels for any tsunami from any direction, and include traffic and population patterns “We draw up those inundation limits on maps, and then it’s up to the county to develop an evacuation zone that would be mauka of that,” Curtis says, ”These zones can be found in the local phone book. County civil defense agencies are in charge of drafting them, and each county is responsible for drawing up their own.” More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

IEA Calls for Policy Analysis of Renewable Energies in Remote Areas and Islands

25 May 2011: The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Implementing Agreement on Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA‐RETD) has published a call for proposals for a project to provide policy perspectives to reduce remote areas and islands' dependence on fossil fuel imports and extensive energy transmission infrastructures.

The objective of the project is to provide national, regional and local policy makers with information on how to promote the use of local renewable energy in geographically isolated areas, traditionally constrained by high energy costs. The focus areas of the project would be remote country areas and islands of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), although results are expected to provide useful parallels for other developed and developing countries. The project should address specific policy contexts of these areas, where balancing supply and demand occurs on a much smaller scale than in larger regions. It should also discuss: pricing mechanisms; special policies on energy consumption; subsidies of fossil fuels; and education and training programmes. Other important areas for consideration in the project would include: transport systems and transport fuel, and short-term energy needs for seasonal or insecure areas. The main deliverables would be a report, communication of overall findings, and follow-up plan for the project.

The deadline for proposals is 30 June 2011. Inquiries should be sent to: David de Jager ( More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands