Friday, April 25, 2014

Doomed Pine Island Glacier Releases Guam-Sized Iceberg into Southern Ocean

Science has confirmed it. Human-caused warming is killing Antarctica’s massive Pine Island Glacier (PIG). And this week’s release of a chunk of ice larger than Guam into the southern ocean is just one of the many major losses that will occur as part of what is now an inevitable demise of one of the world’s greatest glaciers.

The iceberg calved from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, according to NASA. The crack that produced it was first spotted in 2011. Since November, B31 has drifted out of Pine Island Bay and into the Amundsen Sea off the western side of the continent. 'The iceberg is now well out of Pine Island Bay and will soon join the more general flow in the Southern Ocean, which could be east or west in this region," iceberg researcher Grant Bigg from the University of Sheffield in England said in the NASA statement. Once that happens, the researchers worry it will be difficult track the iceberg during the long weeks of darkness that comprise the Antarctic winter. And don't expect it to melt. An iceberg of that size could hang around for a year or more, Robert Marsh, a scientist at the University of Southampton in England, said last year. The largest iceberg ever recorded was called B15. With an area of 4,250 square miles -- about the size of the state of Connecticut or the island of Jamaica - it calved off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000. B15 has since broken up, but parts of it still exist around the Antarctic today.

Heat-Charged Blow to The Soft Underbelly of Antarctic Ice Shelves

As human greenhouse gas emissions caused the world’s oceans to warm, upwelling currents delivered a portion of that heat to the continental shelf zone surrounding Antarctica. A fortress of ice, numerous glacial ice shelves thrust out from this frozen land and drove deep into the sea floor. Ocean-fronting glaciers featured submerged sections hundreds of feet below the sea surface.

The warming currents encountered these massive ice faces, eroding their undersides and providing pathways for ocean waters to invade many miles beneath the glaciers. These invasions subjected the vulnerable ice shelves not only to the heat forcing of an ever-warming ocean, but also to wave and tidal stresses. The reduction in grounding and the constant variable stresses set the glaciers into a rapid seaward motion.

Antarctica’s most vulnerable glaciers lie along its western out-thrust. Two, Thwaites and the Pine Island Glacier, have recently seen very rapid increases in forward speed. Of these, the Pine Island Glacier, according to a recent study, is undergoing the process of an irreversible collapse. What this means is that the glacier’s speed of forward motion is now too great to be halted. Inevitably, even if the climate were to cool, the entire giant glacier will be launched into the world’s oceans where it will entirely melt out.

Guam-Sized Chunk of Ice to be One of Many

The Pine Island Glacier is massive, covering a total area of 68,000 square miles and, in some locations, rising to over 2,000 feet in height. It represents 10% of all the ice in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, holding enough liquid water to raise sea levels by between 1 and 2.5 feet all on its own. And the now destabilized PIG is bound to put added stresses on the adjacent Thwaites glacier together with almost the entire West Antarctic ice system. Over recent years, PIG’s forward speed has accelerated. Increasing forward velocity by 73 percent from 1974 to 2007. Surveys made since that time show an even more rapid pace. By January of this year, studies were finding that PIG had entered a sate of irreversible collapse. So it is little wonder that enormous chunks of ice are breaking off from this massive glacier and drifting on out into the Southern Ocean.

As of early this week, the immense ice island dubbed B31 measuring 12×24 miles in size (nearly 290 square miles), slid off its temporary grounding on the sea bottom and began its journey out into the Southern Ocean. There it will remain for years, plaguing the world’s shipping lanes as it slowly disintegrates into a flotilla of icebergs. It is just the most recent event in the now ongoing decline of PIG. And we can expect many, many more major ice releases as this vast Antarctic glacier continues its dive to the sea. More

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Marshall Islands sues nine nuclear powers over failure to disarm

The Marshall Islands is suing the nine countries with nuclear weapons at the international court of justice at The Hague, arguing they have violated their legal obligation to disarm.

In the unprecedented legal action, comprising nine separate cases brought before the ICJ on Thursday, the Republic of the Marshall Islands accuses the nuclear weapons states of a "flagrant denial of human justice". It argues it is justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race.

The Pacific chain of islands, including Bikini Atoll and Enewetak, was the site of 67 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958, including the "Bravo shot", a 15-megaton device equivalent to a thousand Hiroshima blasts, detonated in 1954. The Marshallese islanders say they have been suffering serious health and environmental effects ever since.

The island republic is suing the five "established" nuclear weapons states recognised in the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) – the US, Russia (which inherited the Soviet arsenal), China, France and the UK – as well as the three countries outside the NPT who have declared nuclear arsenals – India, Pakistan and North Korea, and the one undeclared nuclear weapons state, Israel.

The NPT, which came into force in 1970 is essentially a compact between the non-weapon states, who pledged to not to acquire nuclear weapons, and the weapons states, who in return undertook to disarm under article VI of the treaty.

Although the size of the arsenals are sharply down from the height of the cold war, the Marshall Islands' legal case notes there remain more than 17,000 warheads in existence, 16,000 of them owned by Russia and the US – enough to destroy all life on the planet.

"The long delay in fulfilling the obligations enshrined in article VI of the NPT constitutes a flagrant denial of human justice," the court documents say.

The Marshall Islands case draws attention to the fact that the weapons states are currently in the process of modernising their nuclear weapons, which it portrays as a clear violation of the NPT.

The case against Britain, which has an estimated total inventory of 225 warheads and is in the process of replacing its submarine-launched Trident arsenal, states that: "The UK has not pursued in good faith negotiations to cease the nuclear arms race at an early date through comprehensive nuclear disarmament or other measures, and instead is taking actions to improve its nuclear weapons system and to maintain it for the indefinite future."

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's general secretary, Kate Hudson, said: "The nuclear-armed states continue to peddle the myth that they are committed to multilateral disarmament initiatives, while squandering billions to modernise their nuclear arsenals. The UK government's plans to replace Trident make a mockery of its professed belief in multilateral frameworks – and now in addition to huge public opposition in the UK, it will also face an international legal challenge to expose its hypocrisy." More


Proposed seawater-based air conditioning could benefit farmers

Discharged seawater pumped from the ocean and used for a renewable air conditioning system would overload surface waters with minerals that could potentially be captured instead for use in agriculture, according to a noted oceanographer.

Pumps designed to move thousands of tons of water from the sea floor to a proposed Honolulu air-conditioning plant would bring up phosphates located hundreds of feet below the ocean surface, David Karl told an audience of scientists, ocean-policy experts, and students on March 13 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

When phosphate-rich water is discharged, the sudden availability of the nutrient at the ocean surface is known to cause rapid growth and reproduction of phytoplankton, which can change water transparency and color, and impact marine ecosystems. But instead of being discharged into the ocean, the mineral could be extracted and used as fertilizer by local farmers, Karl said.

“Development of a marine-based, phosphate-capture and reuse process is a major contemporary challenge for science, society, and sustainability,” said Karl, who is a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in Honolulu. He discussed the plant during his 2014 Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture as an example of solving a sustainability challenge using oceanographic research.

Farmers around the world are facing an impending shortage of terrestrial phosphate, which is mainly used as an agricultural fertilizer, Karl noted. However, the ocean is a rich reservoir of dissolved phosphate. Marine microbes, such as phytoplankton, take in phosphorus and then sink to the depths when they die. As a result, deeper ocean water contains phosphate in higher concentrations than surface water. The only difficulty is finding a method to access the low-lying phosphate and then concentrate it into mineral form, Karl said.

The proposed seawater air conditioning plant could be a test bed for solving the looming phosphate shortage and making seawater-based air-conditioning more environmentally friendly, he added. Unlike conventional air conditioning, the proposed plant could help Honolulu use less fossil fuel and conserve fresh water by recycling it within the system, Karl said.

Cold seawater drawn from more than 1,700 feet below sea level would be used to cool freshwater at the plant. The system would then pump the low-temperature freshwater into city buildings with existing chilled-water air-conditioning systems. Meanwhile, it would return used seawater to the ocean.

Karl said that his early field research has shown that removing phosphate from the seawater used in such a plant before discharging the effluent would prevent phytoplankton blooms.

The chief science adviser of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, a company contributing part of the cooling technology for the Honolulu plant, downplayed ecological concerns from discharging the plant’s used seawater. The plant would discard it through a diffuser system offshore and in deep water so as not to greatly affect surface waters or coral communities, said Stephen Oney, in a separate interview.

Karl gave his talk as the latest in a long-standing series of lectures in honor of famed oceanographer Roger Revelle, and created by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council. The series focuses on the connection between ocean sciences and public policy. Revelle served as president for AGU’s Ocean Sciences section from 1956 until 1959. More


Monday, April 21, 2014

Florida communities prepare for rising seas

WASHINGTON — While the nation looks for solutions to the problem of rising sea levels, some coastal communities in Florida are taking action to save themselves from sinking into the ocean.

Hallandale Beach is preparing to pump excess groundwater into an aquifer. Fort Lauderdale has raised a coastal roadbed and is installing one-way "tidal valves" that flush water down storm drains but block seawater from rising back up.

And coastal communities farther north, from Palm Beach County to the Space Coast, are developing plans that would concentrate housing, businesses, water plants and wells on higher ground, less vulnerable to the rising sea.

"Florida is ground zero for sea-level rise," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told the Senate while announcing a field hearing in Miami Beach on Tuesday, which is Earth Day. "We've got quite a story to tell."

Nelson plans to highlight Florida's adaptations to its changing coastline when the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space meets at 10 a.m. at Miami Beach City Hall.

Low-lying Florida, much of it barely above sea level, is among the first victims of global warming, which scientists say leads to rising seas. Nelson and experts on climate change see the state emerging as a model for how to deal with the inevitable consequences.

The seas already have risen 8 to 10 inches over the past hundred years, creeping closer to structures built near the ocean, said Nancy Gassman, acting assistant director of public works in Fort Lauderdale.

"It makes a difference about how we look to the future and build new infrastructure, recognizing that sea-level rise needs to be considered," she said.

The response dovetails with measures designed to deal with extreme high tides each fall and occasional storms, such as Hurricane Sandy. That storm severely eroded South Florida beaches in November 2012, crumbling 2,000 feet of one lane of State Road A1A along the beachfront.

With future storms and rising seas in mind, engineers propped up the restored roadway with sheets of metal that were driven into the ground until they hit bedrock. They raised the roadbed while sloping it to drain water.

"We're putting it back not just the way it was but in a way that enhances its resilience to future events," Gassman said.

A pilot project to install one-way tidal valves — which send groundwater down storm drains but won't let water rise back up — has proven successful, she said.

The city also is considering stormwater parks — open spaces lined with plants, about the size of a few housing lots — where groundwater can be pooled to prevent flooding on surrounding property. And it is considering "bio-swales," narrow strips along roadways that are lined with vegetation and porous material to suck water more quickly below the surface.

Flat, low-lying Hallandale Beach already faces the threat of salty seawater flowing into its freshwater supply, a problem aggravated by sea-level rise.

The city once planned to spend $10 million to move its water system away from the sea, but leaders instead decided last year to pump surface water into an underground aquifer no longer used for drinking water.

"What we realized is that this is a good strategy not only for our drainage but in light of sea-level rise," said Earl King, assistant utilities director in Hallandale Beach.

Some communities farther north are beginning to assess the impact of rising seas while considering ways to protect existing buildings and shift new development to higher ground.

"As we build for the future, we have to take sea-level rise into account and fortify existing infrastructure, such as wells and water facilities," said Palm Beach CountyCommissioner Steven Abrams. "And we might need more frequent beach re-nourishment."

Satellite Beach, sitting on a barrier island along the Space Coast, cannot protect itself behind dikes or sea walls because water would seep through the porous limestone beneath it.

The city eventually may have to abandon some homes along the oceanfront and move toward multi-family housing complexes on higher ground, said John Fergus, a member of the city's planning advisory board.

"People would still buy homes, but do it with the understanding that this place won't be here 300 or 400 years from now," he said. More


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seychelles Climate Change Ambassador Jumeau at "Sustainability Conference

Ambassador Ronny Jumeau said, "Each island has it's own specificity but common problems we all face are climate change, sea level rise, problem with coral reefs, diminishing fisheries. We have food security problems, especially in low lying islands. You have water security problems on islands. We have all sorts of problems that are similar because we are islands."

Jumeau continued on to say the common mistake islands make is looking towards bigger countries for help instead of helping one another. He said the days of reaching out with a begging bowl are over and islands should come out and say "come help us help ourselves" instead. With Guam having a university and sustainability center, Jumeau added that we already have knowledge we can share.

"We are all trying to find solutions and very often one mistake we made over the many years, we tend to look towards bigger countries because they're richer or more powerful for the solutions but they don't think like us. The best thing is for us to talk before we reach out so we find out what we want to do on our islands and how do we solve these problems," he said.

Jumeau advised Guam to engage the whole community in educating ourselves about climate change because only a few things about climate change is new. He expained that it's great to have the youth interested but also to look towards our elders who have already been through many natural disasters and have more knowledge about our island.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Island Nations Build Ocean Thermal Power to Reduce Dependency on Fossil Fuels

Seawater is proving to be one way to combat climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependency for some ocean island nations. Taking a page from land-based geothermal power which uses the coolness below ground in heat exchange systems, islands are using the thermal energy gradient in a column of seawater to generate electricity.

The technology is known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC. A French defense contractor, DCNS Group, is the latest to deploy it in the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. It plans a second project in Martinique which is expected to come online in 2015.

Lockheed Martin, the American defense contractor, has been working with OTEC for over a decade. When I previously wrote about this technology I described apilot project Lockheed was building in Southern China. The company currently plans to have an OTEC power plant operating offshore in Hawaii.

Why offshore? Because OTEC projects need to be on or near the water. The Lockheed and DCNS technology above the water looks very much like a marine production oil platform (see picture below).

Because the ocean is a great energy storage medium, in fact, the largest on the planet, we can take advantage of the temperature gradient that occurs in a column of water and use it to our advantage. Surface water can be as warm as 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) off islands like Reunion and Martinique. At depths of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), however, that water remains a constant 4-5 degrees Celsius (39-41 Fahrenheit). Go deeper and you approach freezing temperatures or below freezing. The difference in temperature between surface and deep water is what makes OTEC work.

OTEC technology is built using a membrane that serves as a heat exchanger. The warm surface water is exposed to a liquid with a low boiling point. DCNS uses ammonia. When it gasifies the ammonia drives a turbine which is attached to a gemerator. The second part of the OTEC technology involves drawing the cold from below to act as a coolant. This condenses the ammonia back to a liquid state where the process can then be repeated.

Key to OTEC's successful deployment is the finding of island and coastal locations that currently experience high energy costs because fossil fuels need to be imported for energy generation. The second key is locations where there is a sufficiently high temperature gradient in nearby ocean and seas. Japan, China, the Bahamas, Curacao, South Korea and Hawaii are current locations where OTEC is under development or being considered. For countries looking to lower their carbon footprint with all the right keys in place, OTEC may prove to be a strong renewable energy play. More


Thursday, April 10, 2014

One English Town’s Innovative Response To Sea Level Rise

Vast stretches of the Somerset Levels, an expanse of coastal plains and wetlands in southwest England, have spent much of the winter underwater. At the peak of the crisis, some 11,500 hectares (28,420 acres) was submerged as violent storms brought “biblical” deluges week after week, for months on end.

Along Britain’s scenic coastline, 80 mph gales and tidal surges have left cliffs crumbling into the rough sea, beaches and sand dunes eroded, sea defenses breached, and shorelines and harbors damaged beyond recognition.

The cliffs at Birling Gap on the East Sussex coast have suffered seven years of erosion in just two months, as over nine feet of the soft chalky cliffs fell into the sea. At Formby, on the Sefton coast, the sand dunes saw two years worth of erosion in just one epically stormy December afternoon. At South Milton Sands in Devon, sand dunes have been completely destabilized and fences and boardwalks washed away. And the list of destruction goes on and on.

All along the coast of the U.K. and in other coastal communities around the world, the threat of sea level rise and more violent storms is forcing towns and governments to make difficult choices — build higher, build stronger, or retreat. In the U.S., both strategies are being explored. Famous for its levy system, New Orleansis now also incorporating open spaces designed to flood into city planning, following designs pioneered by the Dutch. For its part, much of the New Jersey coast, devastated by Superstorm Sandy, is choosing to rely almost entirely on bigger artificial sand dunes to hold the ocean back as towns attempt to rebuild right where they were before the hurricane hit.

The U.K.’s Environment Agency is experimenting with a kind of coordinated retreat for the hardest to defend coastal areas, a tactic referred to as managed coastal realignment. It’s a controversial approach for a relatively small island nation. But the recent wild winter storms are starting to change attitudes — strategic surrender suddenly seems like it may be the smart, sustainable solution.

Getting Smart, Not Giving Up

Hostile and fearful, that’s how Adrian Thomas describes the mood in the room when West Sussex residents were told that the Medmerry sea wall in the south of England would no longer be defended.

“People thought we were giving up,” said Thomas who works as a project manager for the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). “People wanted to know why we couldn’t just build a bigger sea wall or make it out of concrete. After so many years of fighting this fight, no one wanted to hear that we just weren’t going to fight anymore.”

What the community was being presented with back in 2008 were plans for thelargest ever managed realignment of the U.K. coast — effectively moving the coastline several kilometers inland. For decades, the Environment Agency, charged with managing flood defenses in the U.K., has maintained a one kilometer sea wall built out of shingle — a shingle bank — from the beach along the coast between the town of Selsey and Bracklesham on the Manhood Peninsula in southern England.

Since the 1990s, the probability of the shingle bank being breached in any given year, however, was one in one, necessitating that the Environment Agency haul a fleet of diggers out to the beach each winter and reconstruct what nature seemed so determined to destroy. The average price tag for this un-winnable war was around £200,000 ($332,000) annually. Were the bank not repaired, however, the likely inundation zone would include the only road to Selsey, 360 homes in Selsey, a water treatment plant serving 12,000 people and multiple seasonal vacation home developments with hundreds of rental cottages. The last time the wall was seriously compromised during winter storms was in 2008. The resultant flooding cost over £5 million ($8.3 million) in damages.

The controversial plan? Cut a 100 meter channel into the shingle bank and let the ocean reclaim 500 hectares of land, transforming three farms and the RSPB nature reserve into a saltwater marsh. Then behind the newly created inter-tidal zone, about two kilometers inland, build a new seven kilometer curved clay embankment — completely “realign” the coast. The price? £28 million ($46.5 million). The coastal realignment not only moves the sea wall further inland, it also creates a powerful buffer zone of marsh that can absorb storm energy. Interestingly, there is archeological evidence that the area was originally dominated by saltwater marsh hundreds of years ago.

“If you do the math, you can’t help but wonder how a scheme that cost £28 million ($46.5 million) can be justified if it only costs £0.2 million ($332,000) to maintain the sea wall each year,” said Thomas of RSPB which owned the 50 hectares of land adjacent to the old sea wall. “But of course, it’s £0.2 million ($332,000) based on current sea levels. If you factor in sea level rise due to climate change — about an extra meter in the next 100 years — and the fact that the south of England is still tipping into the sea after the last ice age, that’s just not going to be the price in the future. Never mind the financial side, it may simply not be technically feasible.”

Early Returns

The past winter was incredibly revealing. Andy Gilham, the Environment Agency’s Regional Flood Risk Manager, believes that because of the intensity and repetition of the brutal storms that pummeled much of the U.K. with hurricane force winds and relentless rain for months, the agency just would not have physically been able to maintain the shingle bank this year.

Fortunately, the Medmerry Managed Realignment Project was completed in November after two years of construction work and just weeks before the first of the winter storms rolled in around Christmas. And the general sentiment among the project leaders and business owners and residents is that the very non-intuitive plan of punching a hole in a flood wall to reduce flooding, actually worked.

“The mood music has definitely changed,” said Thomas. “From hostile and fearful to delighted and surprised.”

Allan Chamberlain, the Estate Director at Medmerry Park Holiday Village, a development consisting of 308 vacation rental homes adjacent to the realignment scheme, will readily admit that he is shocked by how well the realigned coastline protected the area from this winter’s epic flooding.

“I think initially we had the impression we were giving up and just letting it flood,” said Chamberlain. “But when you look at it now, you can see that it is progress, not defeat. Not only were we not flooded by the sea, but the project also appears to have made the surface flooding from rain less severe. The rainwater drains into the new marsh beautifully.”

“It’s the first winter in years we haven’t had to deal with surface flooding,” he added. “We were all hoping the project just wouldn’t make it any worse, but it appears to actually be making it much better.”

Chamberlain is also thrilled about the new tourist attraction created by the expanded nature reserve. He has already noticed an increase in visitors to the park even though the season has barely begun and not all the trails around the reserve are finished. Before the realignment project there were just two short stretches of public foot paths around the small, 50 hectare RSPB reserve. Now there are 10 kilometers of foot paths and seven kilometers of new bike paths in an area completely dependent on tourism for the local economy. In addition to attracting more people, the project has also actually extended the tourism season in the area. Bunn Leisure in Selsey, the largest vacation home development in the area, once only allowed to be open for eight months because of the risk of flooding, can now extend its season for an additional two months. The vacation home park employs over 300 people.

Chamberlain is applying for a similar permit extension.

‘We Are Very Aware That We Live On An Island’

Not everyone shares Chamberlain’s enthusiasm. Ben Cooper, who owns an IT consulting company and is a member of the Selsey Town Council, still has his concerns. He would have liked to see the Environment Agency consider other alternatives such as constructing rock barriers out in the ocean in front of the coast to break wave energy.

“When you live on a small island like the U.K. it’s hard to see land go,” he said. “I think we gave up too easily and before the Environment Agency tries this somewhere else, I hope they wait and see how the project stands the test of time. Once you give land back to the sea, there’s no getting it back, so if this doesn’t work, we will have given up that land for nothing.”

One of the especially contentious issues at the beginning of the Medmerry project was the fact that in order to create the realignment project, three productive farms growing oilseed rape and winter wheat would have to be sacrificed to the sea.

“In the U.K. we are very aware that we live on an island,” said Thomas. “We know we’re not self-sufficient already, so the idea of letting go of perfectly good agricultural land struck many people as wasteful and short-sighted.”

Indeed, around the U.K. this winter, the fact that developed property is given priority for flood protection over agricultural land has led many people to question the sustainability of the Environment Agency’s approach.

The area won’t lose all of its food production value, however. The newly created estuary-like environment is expected to become an important fish nursery that will boost the local commercial fishing economy in Selsey. The salt marsh vegetation will also be farmed — not the waving wheat and barley people are accustomed to, but the land can be used for low intensity cattle grazing to produce salt marsh beef a premier meat product.

The people with the biggest reservations about the Medmerry project are actually not from the area at all.

“People in Somerset who have had to endure terrible flooding this winter are quite upset about the whole thing,” said Chamberlain. “They want to know why the Environment Agency is spending £28 million on a ‘bird park’ when they could desperately have used those funds to dredge rivers and mitigate flooding in their area.”

As it turns out, the only reason the Environment Agency was able to set aside the money for the Medmerry scheme was precisely because they were creating habitat for birds. As Andy Gilham explained, under the E.U. Habitats and Birds Directive, the U.K. is required to compensate for wildlife habitat being destroyed elsewhere along the coast by creating new habitat. In the south of England especially, areas designated as Special Areas of Conservation along the Solent strait between the Isle of Wight and the mainland are being lost through a process known as “coastal squeeze.” Coastal squeeze refers to the loss of coastal habitat as land on the seaward side of rigid coastal protection structures is eroded away. The Medmerry project created nearly 200 new hectares of wetlands with similar ecological functions as the areas being lost to the west.

While the Environment Agency has done smaller coastal realignment projects in the past, Medmerry is by far the largest and the only scheme that realigns open ocean coastline, as opposed to coastline along an inland estuary. Projects similar to Medmerry are already under development. In May 2012, the Environment Agency began construction work on a coastal realignment project on the Steart Peninsula in southwest England. The project will create a new 400 hectare and provide flood protection for Steart village.

“I do feel resonance with the kind of gut human instinct that says we can win against nature,” said Thomas. “Surely we have the technology and fortitude. But there are different ways of winning. And I feel we’ve done the big win at Medmerry.” More




Friday, April 4, 2014

Ban praises small islands’ commitment to address climate change

2 April 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the commitment by small islands in the Pacific to low-carbon development and urged them to continue their ambitious efforts to combat climate change and spur other nations to come to a binding agreement on this issue next year.


“Because you are on the front lines, you know that we are at a pivotal moment and that more needs to be done. You know that the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise,” Mr. Ban said in his message to the Pacific launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which took place in Fiji.

While Mr. Ban noted that small island nations face special challenges, such as rising sea levels, restricted markets and high energy prices due to their remote location, he also highlighted successful initiatives that are helping these countries achieve sustainable development.

“The Pacific Islands are demonstrating real global leadership in our shared efforts to make a much-needed transition to a new era in energy use and production,” he said. “Tokelau has become the first territory in the world to generate 100 per cent of its power from renewable energy, while our host, the government of Fiji, is demonstrating its commitment to support sustainable energy for all through concrete actions. These and other efforts are helping to point the way to a sustainable future.”

The period from 2014 to 2024 has been declared by the UN General Assembly as the Decade for Sustainable Energy for All and two years ago, Mr. Ban launched his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

“There are climate solutions with a demonstrated track record of success. They are feasible, affordable and they can bring economic opportunity that supports our sustainable development goals,” the UN chief said in his message, delivered by the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Gyan Chandra Acharya.

“I therefore urge your Governments to continue to be ambitious as we move forward with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process. Member States must deliver a global and legally binding agreement by 2015. Sustainable energy is also a central issue in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.”

Mr. Ban stressed that the leadership of small island developing states will be crucial to advance on this issue and urged these nations to ensure that their voices are heard “loudly and clearly” at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in June and at the climate summit in September. More