Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

(This article is courtesy of the Hindustan Times of India)

 

Iceland commemorates first glacier lost to climate change

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

WORLD Updated: Aug 18, 2019 09:47 IST

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Reykjavik
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.
This combination of Sept. 14, 1986, left, and Aug. 1, 2019 photos provided by NASA shows the shrinking of the Okjokull glacier on the Ok volcano in west-central Iceland.(AP)

Iceland on Sunday honors the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony starting around 1400 GMT to mark Okjokull — which translates to “Ok glacier” — in the west of Iceland, in the presence of local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.

“This will be the first monument to a glacier lost to climate change anywhere in the world,” Cymene Howe, associate professor of anthropology at Rice University, said in July.

The plaque bears the inscription “A letter to the future,” and is intended to raise awareness about the decline of glaciers and the effects of climate change.

“In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it,” the plaque reads.

It is also labelled “415 ppm CO2,” referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.

“Memorials everywhere stand for either human accomplishments, like the deeds of historic figures, or the losses and deaths we recognise as important,” researcher Howe said.

“By memorializing a fallen glacier, we want to emphasize what is being lost — or dying — the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ‘accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.”

Howe noted that the conversation about climate change can be abstract, with many dire statistics and sophisticated scientific models that can feel incomprehensible.

“Perhaps a monument to a lost glacier is a better way to fully grasp what we now face,” she said, highlighting “the power of symbols and ceremony to provoke feelings”.

Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear all of the island country’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200, according to Howe and her Rice University colleague Dominic Boyer.

– Stripped in 2014 –

Glaciologists stripped Okjokull of its glacier status in 2014, a first for Iceland.

In 1890, the glacier ice covered 16 square kilometres (6.2 square miles) but by 2012, it measured just 0.7 square kilometres, according to a report from the University of Iceland from 2017.

In 2014, “we made the decision that this was no longer a living glacier, it was only dead ice, it was not moving,” Oddur Sigurdsson, a glaciologist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told AFP.

To have the status of a glacier, the mass of ice and snow must be thick enough to move by its own weight. For that to happen the mass must be approximately 40 to 50 meters (130 to 165 feet) thick, he said.

According to a study published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)in April, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites could lose their glaciers by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate.

Sigurdsson said he feared “that nothing can be done to stop it.”

“The inertia of the climate system is such that, even if we could stop introducing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere right now, it will keep on warming for century and a half or two centuries before it reaches equilibrium.”

Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in early July, is home to, and named after, the largest ice cap in Europe.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 09:12 IST

5 Cities Most at Risk With Rising Sea Levels

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Cities Most at Risk With Rising Sea Levels

There are 570 coastal cities that could be impacted by rising sea levels by the 2050’s, affecting some 800 million people, according to C40 Cities. Cities along the Atlantic coast in the U.S. and various parts of Asia are under the greatest threat. Here’s a look at the cities most at risk if sea levels rise significantly.

Miami, Florida, U.S.A.

Credit: BackyardProduction/iStock

Located on the southeastern tip of Florida, this low-lying city will be completely inundated with flood waters if sea levels rise as some predict. With a population of over 2.7 million, the entire Miami-Dade county is only an average of six feet above sea level, making it an easy target for flooding.

The city is trying to address the problem with $500 million worth of infrastructure changes and the installation of pumps and floodgates, according to NPR.

Alexandria, Egypt

Credit: efesenko/iStock

Located on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, the city of Alexandria is already feeling the effects of climate change. If sea levels continue to rise at the current rate, an estimated 3 million people would be directly affected, and millions more would eventually be displaced, according to The Guardian.

The drastic impact from rising sea levels is worsened by the Nile, the longest river in the world, which empties into the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria. The low-lying river delta in this area continues to flood, causing the loss of much-needed crops in this heavily populated city, according to NPR. Climate change is also causing hotter temperatures and beach erosion. This is hampering tourism in the area, which is a very important aspect of the city’s economic livelihood, according to NPR. Making matters worse, the average elevation of the area is only 16 feet above sea level.

Osaka, Japan

Credit: pat138241/iStock

This large port city on the Japanese island of Honshu has been aware of the threat of climate change for a while. There has been massive coastal flooding in areas of the city, including its airport. According to The Guardian, an estimated 5 million people will be directly impacted by the rising sea levels, and an additional 6 million could be displaced in the city’s surrounding region.

Like other major coastal cities, Osaka has been updating its infrastructure in an attempt to combat the rising waters. Unfortunately, in a study by the Institute for Global Change Adaptation Science in Japan, it was found that the current designs for these walls may be insufficient against a prospective higher sea level.

Hong Kong, China

Credit: efired/iStock

The fate of this global financial hub depends on how high temperatures rise. A rise of just 2 degrees Celsius puts Hong Kong’s entire population of 7.4 million people at risk, along with many more in the surrounding coastal areas, according to The Guardian. A warm-up of more than 2 degrees could be catastrophic. The average elevation of Hong Kong varies, but it is typically only about 4 feet above sea level, worsening the situation.

Shanghai, China

Credit: chuyu/iStock

All of China’s coastal cities are at risk, according to GBTIMES. Its largest city, Shanghai, with a population of 24.2 million, is unfortunately at the forefront. Scientists have been warning the city for many years that it is already a major flood risk due to its dense population on the low-lying coast and its abundance of rivers, canals and other waterways, according to The New York Times.

According to The Guardian, 17.5 million people will be affected if sea levels rise to the current expectation. At just 13 feet above sea level, the city has been installing massive flood prevention walls in an attempt to prevent future problems. Only time will tell if these efforts help.

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Unprecedented’ wildfires ravage the Arctic

Wildfire smoke is spreading from Alaska across parts of Canada.

Story highlights

  • The wildfires come as the planet is on track to experience the hottest July on record
  • Wildfires contribute to global warming by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

(CNN)More than 100 intense wildfires have ravaged the Arctic since June, with scientists describing the blazes as “unprecedented.”

New satellite images show huge clouds of smoke billowing across uninhabited land in Greenland, Siberia and parts of Alaska.
The wildfires come after the planet experienced the hottest June on record and is on track to experience the hottest July on record, as heatwaves sweep across Europe and the United States.
Since the start of June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which provides data about atmospheric composition and emissions, has tracked more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle.
Pierre Markuse, a satellite photography expert, said the region has experienced fires in the past, but never this many.
Satellite images show smoke billowing across Greenland and Alaska as wildfires ravage the region.

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at a faster rate than the global average, providing the right conditions for wildfires to spread, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS.
“The number and intensity of wildfires in the Arctic Circle is unusual and unprecedented,” Parrington told CNN.
“They are concerning as they are occurring in a very remote part of the world, and in an environment that many people would consider to be pristine,” he said.
See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave

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See how Europe is dealing with an extreme heatwave 01:34
The average June temperature in Siberia, where the fires are raging, was almost 10 degrees higher than the long-term average between 1981–2010, Dr Claudia Volosciuk, a scientist with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told CNN.
Parrington said there seemed to be more wildfires due to local heatwaves in Siberia, Canada and Alaska.
The fires themselves contribute to the climate crisis by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
They emitted an estimated 100 megatons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere between 1 June and 21 July, almost the equivalent of Belgium’s carbon output in 2017, according to CAMS.
Volosciuk said wildfires are also exacerbating global warming by releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.
“When particles of smoke land on snow and ice, [they] cause the ice to absorb sunlight that it would otherwise reflect, and thereby accelerate the warming in the Arctic,” she said.

India: Cyclone Fani: Odisha stares at ecological crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Cyclone Fani: Odisha stares at ecological crisis

Two of Odisha’s ecological hotspots – Lake Chilka and Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary — may not be the same any more, thanks to Cyclone Fani that roared through the state on May 3 with wind speeds exceeding 200 km an hour, officials said on Thursday.

INDIA Updated: May 10, 2019 08:30 IST

Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Puri
Cyclone Fani,Odisha fani,India news
A tribal family seen under a collapsed tree that was hit by cyclone Fani, at Birapratap Pur Village, Odisha, India, on Thursday, May 09, 2019.(Photo: Arabinda Mahapatra / Hindustan Times)

Two of Odisha’s ecological hotspots – Lake Chilka and Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary — may not be the same any more, thanks to Cyclone Fani that roared through the state on May 3 with wind speeds exceeding 200 km an hour, officials said on Thursday.

Chilka, Asia’s biggest brackish water lake that earlier had two mouths, now has four more, stirring fears that salinity could increase by inflow of sea water and adversely affect marine life, the officials said. Over 4.5 million trees were uprooted by the cyclone in Balakhand, making it look like a “wasteland”.

Cyclone Fani, which made landfall in Puri last Friday, has left a long trail of destruction along the coast, uprooting millions of trees, blowing away roofs and homes, and snapping power. Weather experts have termed Fani the most intense cyclone in the region in 20 years.

While it affected over 14 million people in Odisha’s densely populated coastal districts, its impact on ecology and wildlife has been equally devastating, though an estimate of the damage has yet to be made. Most part of the ~17,000 crore the state government has sought from the Centre will go into putting people’s lives back on track.

The Balukhand wildlife sanctuary on the Puri-Konark marine drive, which has over 4,000 spotted deer, a large number of wolves, monitor lizards and is visited by Olive Ridley turtles for nesting, has lost over 4.5 million trees. “Most of the trees are either uprooted or broken. It’s a Herculean task to clear the fallen trees and restore the sanctuary’s ecology,” said Harshabardhan Udgata, the divisional forest officer of the sanctuary. The sanctuary was home to around 9 million trees and only mangroves were able to resist the strong winds.

The loss of spotted deer was not much, Udgata said, but it would be difficult for them to tolerate the gruelling summers without the shade of trees. “It will take us at least four months to clear the fallen trees. Planting new ones would only be possible in the next season. We are distressed thinking about the impact of the cyclone on wildlife,” he said.

The cyclone also damaged lakhs of trees along the Bhubaneswar-Puri highway and on roads in Bramhagiri, Satapada, Krushnaprasad, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Khurda and several other areas. On Thursday, the Odisha forest department released information on the ecological impact of the cyclone, including Lake Chilka, which has been designated a world heritage site.

“Chilka lagoon had only two active mouths — the point where it meets the sea — before Cyclone Fani. Four new mouths have opened due to wave energy with high tidal prism and saline ingress to the lake,” said Chilka Lake Authority chief executive officer Sushanta Nanda. “Its effect on biodiversty is being assessed.”

A Bhubaneswar-based environment expert, Biswajit Mohanty, said the new mouths were a cause of concern to the health of the lake, but one would have to wait a few months to see if they remain open or close by natural deposition.

“It’s important to monitor the lake’s salinity, which may see unexpected fluctuations due to the inflow of sea water through the new mouths. This may also lead to changes in fish migration. Fish and aquatic plants may also be adversely affected if the salinity level goes up,” he said.

“Chilka is home to about 150 species of migratory birds and endangered plants and animal species, apart from a source of livelihood for about 1.5 lakh fishermen in the region,” Mohanty added. Another environment expert, Aditya Panda, said increase in salinity could impact swamps in the lake and it could be measured only though detailed scientific assessment. “I am hopeful that Chilka will be able to revive itself,” he said.

After an initial assessment, Panda said the flamingo, pelican and painted stork population was safe in the Nalabana sanctuary on Chilka lake. But the real ecological impact would be assessed only in the next few weeks, he said. In the Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary, the forest department has estimated damage to nearly 5.5 million trees, which would affect around 400 spotted deer. “Around 20% of the trees are uprooted and cannot be revived, while the remaining were found to be snapped or broken,” said Jarsabardhan Udgatta, divisional forest officer of Puri wildlife division.

In Bhubaneswar’s Nandankanan Zoological Park, animal enclosures have been destroyed and hundreds of trees uprooted. With the zoo shut indefinitely, monkeys have begun entering residential areas looking for food and water, zoo officials said.

The Odisha principal chief conservator of forests, Sandip Tripathy, said the damage to the green cover was so pervasive that it would take at least a decade to restore it. “We have to ensure re-plantation of the uprooted trees to revive the green cover,” he said. Mohanty suggested that the department should not plant trees such as casuarina and eucalyptus as they cannot withstand strong winds. “It would be wise to plant trees like neem, karanj, banyan and local berries, which are endemic to the area,” he said.

There is clear indication that because of climate change, the frequency and intensity of cyclones have increased in recent years, Panda said.

According to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increase in surface temperatures over oceans, especially in the cyclone-prone Bay of Bengal, will increase the frequency and intensity of sea storms.

Odisha has witnessed three major cyclones since 2015 – Phailin, Titli and Fani. “Cyclone Fani got intensity as surface temperature over Bay of Bengal got warmer by one degree Celsius over the long term average, according to NASA satellite data,” said a Global Strategic Communication Council statement.India Meteorological Department director general K J Ramesh said there was a direct correlation between the intensity of cyclone Fani and climate change.

“Due to global warming, there is additional warming over all oceans; Bay of Bengal is no exception. Atmosphere is also very warm. The combination of the two makes cyclones last longer,” he said.

Panda said the increase in frequency of cyclones, especially in the Bay of Bengal, should goad policy-makers to come up with a new action plan to tackle them. “The storm blew away window panes of flats in high-rise buildings in Bhubaneswar and Puri and damaged household goods. This has not happened before. We need to do a rethink on how to save our cities from such cyclones,” he said.

First Published: May 10, 2019 06:58 IST

Global Warming Shrank India’s Economy By 31%

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Global warming shrank Indian economy by 31%: Study

The study from 1961 to 2010, global warming decreased the wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries by 17 to 30 per cent.

WORLD Updated: Apr 23, 2019 11:46 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Boston
global warming,Indian economy,nigeria
Global warming shrank Indian economy by 31%: Study(AFP)

Global warming has caused the Indian economy to be 31 per cent smaller than it would otherwise have been, according to a Stanford study which shows how Earth’s temperature changes have increased inequalities.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere since 1960s have enriched cool countries like Norway and Sweden, while dragging down economic growth in warm countries such as India and Nigeria.

“Our results show that most of the poorest countries on Earth are considerably poorer than they would have been without global warming,” said climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, from Stanford University in the US.

“At the same time, the majority of rich countries are richer than they would have been,” Diffenbaugh said in a statement.

The study from 1961 to 2010, global warming decreased the wealth per person in the world’s poorest countries by 17 to 30 per cent. Meanwhile, the gap between the group of nations with the highest and lowest economic output per person is now approximately 25 per cent larger than it would have been without climate change.

While the impacts of temperature may seem small from year to year, they can yield dramatic gains or losses over time. “This is like a savings account, where small differences in the interest rate will generate large differences in the account balance over 30 or 50 years,” said Diffenbaugh. After accumulating decades of small effects from warming, India’s economy is now 31 per cent smaller than it would have been in the absence of global warming, he said.

Although economic inequality between countries has decreased in recent decades, the research suggests the gap would have narrowed faster without global warming.

The study builds on previous research in the team analysed 50 years of annual temperature and GDP measurements for 165 countries to estimate the effects of temperature fluctuations on economic growth. They demonstrated that growth during warmer than average years has accelerated in cool nations and slowed in warm nations.

“The historical data clearly show that crops are more productive, people are healthier and we are more productive at work when temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold,” said Marshall Burke, a Stanford assistant professor of Earth system science. “This means that in cold countries, a little bit of warming can help. The opposite is true in places that are already hot,” said Burke.

Researchers combined data from more than 20 climate models developed by research centres around the world. Using the climate models to isolate how much each country has already warmed due to human-caused climate change, the researchers were able to determine what each country’s economic output might have been had temperatures not warmed.

“For most countries, whether global warming has helped or hurt economic growth is pretty certain,” said Burke. Tropical countries, in particular, tend to have temperatures far outside the ideal for economic growth. “There’s essentially no uncertainty that they’ve been harmed,” he said.

It’s less clear how warming has influenced growth in countries in the middle latitudes, including the US, China and Japan. For these and other temperate-climate nations, the analysis reveals economic impacts of less than 10 per cent.

First Published: Apr 23, 2019 11:46 IST

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U.S. Government Report: Climate Change Will Shrink US Economy And Kill Thousands

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Climate change will shrink US economy and kill thousands, government report warns

(CNN)new US government report delivers a dire warning about climate change and its devastating impacts, saying the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars — or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP — by the end of the century.

The federally mandated study was supposed to come out in December but was released by the Trump administration on Friday, at a time when many Americans are on a long holiday weekend, distracted by family and shopping.
David Easterling, director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, emphasized that there was “no external interference in the report’s development.” He added that the climate change the Earth is experiencing is unlike any other.
“The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities,” Easterling said.
Coming from the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was put together with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 leading scientists, roughly half from outside the government.
It’s the second of two volumes. The first, released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The report’s findings run counter to President Donald Trump’s consistent message that climate change is a hoax.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Whatever happened to Global Warming?” as some Americans faced the coldest Thanksgiving in over a century.
But the science explained in these and other federal government reports is clear: Climate change is not disproved by the extreme weather of one day or a week; it’s demonstrated by long-term trends. Humans are living with the warmest temperatures in modern history. Even if the best-case scenario were to happen and greenhouse gas emissions were to drop to nothing, the world is on track to warm 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
As of now, not a single G20 country is meeting climate targets, research shows.
Without significant reductions in greenhouse emissions, the annual average global temperature could increase 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) or more by the end of this century, compared with preindustrial temperatures, the report says.

The expense

The costs of climate change could reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually, according to the report. The Southeast alone will probably lose over a half a billion labor hours by 2100 due to extreme heat.
Farmers will face extremely tough times. The quality and quantity of their crops will decline across the country due to higher temperatures, drought and flooding. In parts of the Midwest, farms will be able to produce less than 75% of the corn they produce today, and the southern part of the region could lose more than 25% of its soybean yield.
Heat stress could cause average dairy production to fall between 0.60% and 1.35% over the next 12 years — having already cost the industry $1.2 billion from heat stress in 2010.
When it comes to shellfish there will be a $230 million loss by the end of the century due to ocean acidification, which is already killing off shellfish and corals. Red tides, or algae bloom that deplete oxygen in the water and can kill sea life — like those that triggered a state of emergency in Florida in August — will become more frequent.

Impacts on our health

Higher temperatures will also kill more people, the report says. The Midwest alone, which is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperature, will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2090.
There will be more mosquito- and tick borne diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. West Nile cases are expected to more than double by 2050 due to increasing temperatures.
Expect asthma and allergies to be worse due to climate change.
No one’s health is immune from climate change, the report concludes. People will be exposed to more foodborne and waterborne diseases. Particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures in the summer, children, the elderly, the poor and communities of color will be at a much greater risk for illness and death.

Heat and flooding

Wildfire seasons — already longer and more destructive than before — could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts of the United States. Burned areas in Southwestern California alone could double by 2050.
Dependable and safe water for the Hawaii, the Caribbean and others are threatened by these rising temperatures.
Along the US coasts, public infrastructure and $1 trillion in national wealth held in real estate are threatened by rising sea levels, flooding and storm surges.
Energy systems will be taxed, meaning more blackouts and power failures, and the potential loss in some sectors could reach hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century, the report said.
The number of days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will multiply; Chicago, where these days are rare, could start to resemble Phoenix or Las Vegas, with up to two months worth of these scorching-hot days.
Sea levels have already gone up 7 to 8 inches since 1900. Almost half that rise has been since 1993, a rate of rise greater than during any century in the past 2,800 years. Some countries are already seeing land underwater.
By midcentury, it’s likely that the Arctic will lose all sea ice in late summer, and that could lead to more permafrost thaw, according to the report. As the permafrost thaws, more carbon dioxide and methane would be released, amplifying human-induced warming, “possibly significantly.”

What can be done

The report was created to inform policy-makers and makes no specific recommendations on how to remedy the problem. However, it suggests that if the United States immediately reduced its fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, it could save thousands of lives and generate billions of dollars in benefits for the country.
The Defense Department is trying to understand what risk climate change poses to security. But the Trump administration has signaled that the country will pull out of international initiatives like the Paris climate accord, aimed at lowering global temperatures, claiming that these treaties have been unfair for the US economy.
A report from the UN in October urged all governments to take “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to avoid disaster from climate change. That report predicted that the Earth will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030. It also suggested the world faces a risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Time for action

Reactions to the new report have been strong across the scientific community.
“If we’re going to run this country like a business, it’s time to address climate as the threat multiplier we know it is before more lives are lost,” said Robert Bullard, an environmental scientist at Texas Southern University.
“In Houston, communities of color have endured back to back major weather events without the acknowledgment from Washington that climate change is the cause. We’ve known for years that it’s true and it’s important to our organizing and our local policy efforts that information like this is not only considered, but believed and acted upon.”
Scientists who have been raising the alarm about the negative consequences of climate change for years welcomed the findings.
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“The findings in the Trump administration’s NCA report show how the health and daily lives of Americans are becoming more and more interrupted because of climate change,” said Beverly Wright, founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice and a professor at Dillard University. “We challenge the administration to finally begin using this information to rebuild and strengthen the communities in the direct path of the atrocities wrought by the fossil fuel industry and decades of poor policies that have neglected our concerns. The science is undeniable, let’s fix it.”

Trump: Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Trump to present new doctrine that says Israel not the cause of Mideast problems

‘America First’ national security strategy, to be unveiled Monday, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational deals that long dominated US policy

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Donald Trump steps off Marine One on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, December 17, 2017, after returning from Camp David in Maryland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, US President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and downplays the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s impact on the broader world order.

The new national security doctrine reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of “America First,” will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump’s doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the US must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

US President Donald Trump, right, chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 9, 2017. (AP/Andy Wong)

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

The last such document, prepared by then-president Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the US is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he’ll deem as “rogue regimes,” like North Korea, and “revisionist powers,” like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and US President Donald Trump during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

The senior officials said the document refers to China as a “strategic competitor,” rather than the stronger accusation of “economic aggression” previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The president is also set to make the case that US economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.

The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the US stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.

The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the US political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of US democratic institutions.

The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president’s remarks.

READ MORE:

New Zealand’s new leader: We must be ready for ‘climate refugees’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

New Zealand’s new leader: We must be ready for ‘climate refugees’

New Zealand: We may have to take climate refugees 02:03

(CNN)New Zealand’s new leader, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, tells CNN that her country must be prepared to take in “climate change refugees” from surrounding island nations.

“We need to acknowledge that we are, unless we make dramatic changes, at the front of seeing refugees as a result of climate change,” Arden told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, her first since taking office last Thursday.

Watch the full interview

  
Watch the full interview09:22
“We see a duty of care there — both to champion internationally the importance of acknowledging and responding to climate change, but also doing our bit.”
The country currently takes in about 750 refugees each year, per United Nations mandates, according to the government.
“We’re looking to ways to build in the responsibility we have on climate change and the way that we approach, potentially, climate change refuges in the future amongst our neighbors,” said the prime minister.
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In order to govern, Ardern’s Labour Party entered into coalition with a conservative, anti-immigration New Zealand First Party.
She denied, however, that her government’s policy would be affected in the area of refugees, saying she had worked “very hard” to build consensus, and was committed on doubling the country’s refugee quota.

‘Never too late’ to talk with North Korea

Ardern takes office at a dangerous time in her region.
US President Donald Trump’s upcoming trip to Asia (though not New Zealand) is expected to focus extensively on North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs.
A senior North Korean official told CNN’s Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the world should take “literally” a warning from North Korea’s foreign minister about a possible “strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.”
Ardern said her policy was simple: “It’s never too late to talk.”
“That is a message we’ll continue to send on the international stage,” while encouraging multilateral “dialogue.”

Questioning women in the workplace

At 37, Ardern is New Zealand’s youngest leader in 150 years, and its third female prime minister.
She has spoken openly about being a mother, but has forcefully condemned the idea that women should be questioned about how they balance work and home life. “Certainly it is an issue that’s come up for me personally in the role that I have in politics time and time again,” she told Amanpour.
“It will continue to be so until we speak only about the fact that it’s a woman’s decision when to chooses to have a family. It should not be something that’s raised when her future career prospects are speculated on or even if she enters into a job opportunity or an interview.”

Pope Francis And Donald Trump: One Man Of Faith And One Without Any?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Aboard the papal plane (CNN) If US President Donald Trump considers himself “pro-life,” he should reconsider his decision to end a program that allows the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States, Pope Francis said.

“The President of the United States presents himself as pro-life and if he is a good pro-lifer, he understands that family is the cradle of life and its unity must be protected,” Francis said.
The Pope’s comments came during a news conference Sunday aboard the papal plane, as he returned to the Vatican after a five-day trip to Colombia. In the wide-ranging Q&A with reporters, the Pope also said history will harshly judge deniers of climate change.
The Pope acknowledged that he was not familiar with the specifics of DACA. “I think this law comes not from parliament but from the executive,” the Pope said. “If that is so, I am hopeful that it will be re-thought.”
Trump and the Pope have tussled over immigration before, with the Pope saying last year that anyone who thinks only of building walls instead of bridges is “not Christian.”
Trump fired back, saying that no religious leader should question another man’s faith.
The US Catholic bishops have also battled a former Trump administration official on DACA in recent days.
Steve Bannon, who until recently was Trump’s chief strategist, accused the bishops of having an ulterior motive in advocating for families affected by the decision to revoke DACA. They have called the decision “heartless” and “reprehensible.”
Bannon said the bishops “need illegal aliens to fill the churches,” a charge the bishops called “preposterous” and “insulting.”

History will judge climate change deniers

As the papal plane prepared to cross over Hurricane Irma’s path on its way back to Rome from Cartagena, Francis issued a stern warning to climate change deniers.
“If we don’t go back, we will go down,” the Pope said, referring to a study which suggested the world must reverse course within the next few years or suffer dire consequences.
Francis said he was particularly struck by news last week of a Russian boat that managed to go through the North Pole without an icebreaker.
“Whoever denies it has to go to the scientists and ask them,” he said. “They speak very clearly, scientists are precise.”
“Then they decide and history will judge those decisions.”
When asked why some governments refused to see the importance of the issue, Francis quoted the book of Psalms in the Old Testament.
“Man is a stupid and hard-headed being,” he said.

North Korea

Francis said he did not fully understand the crisis in North Korea. “I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t really understand the world of geopolitics,” he said. “I think what I see there is a fight for political interests.”
Francis’ message throughout his five-day visit to Colombia had been one of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a hard message for many Colombians, who still have the trauma of kidnappings and killings fresh in their minds, but one which seems to have already had an important effect.
The leader of the guerrilla group FARC, Rodrigo Londono, asked forgiveness on Friday for the suffering his group caused to the Colombian people, in an open letter to Pope Francis.
“Your repeated expressions about God’s infinite mercy move me to plead your forgiveness for any tears and pain that we have caused the people of Colombia,” Londono wrote.

China And Canada Will Work Together In Asian Infrastructure Investment Banking

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

Canada confirms plans to join AIIB

CANADA will apply to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Ottawa’s finance department said yesterday, in a coup for Beijing after Washington had tried to dissuade US allies from signing up.

“Canada is always looking for ways to create hope and opportunity for our middle class as well as for people around the world,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a statement issued in Beijing.

“Membership in the AIIB is an opportunity to do just that,” he said.

The Beijing-headquartered multilateral lender, which began operations earlier this year, has been seen by some as a rival to the World Bank and the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank, which was founded in 1966.

The US$100 billion AIIB counts several major European countries among its shareholders after they joined up despite the objections of the United States.

The United States remains by far the world’s largest economy and hosts both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

AIIB President Jin Liqun welcomed Canada’s decision, which he called “a vote of confidence” in the institution that showed Ottawa’s “confidence in the strong foundations the bank has built in our first few months.”

The US and Japan — the world’s third-largest economy — have notably declined to join the AIIB.

But Jin said that Washington now had a “very positive opinion on the bank.”

China “does not regard itself as the big boss” in the lender, he added, and its shareholding would “definitely be diluted” as more members joined, which could ultimately lead to Beijing losing the de facto veto power it holds over some of its decisions.

In a speech, Morneau suggested Canada was seeking to strike a balance between the US, its close ally and neighbor, and the growing Asian giant.

China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the United States, with exchanges topping C$85 billion (US$66.5 billion) last year.

“We have important relationships with the world’s most powerful nations and have developed a capacity for mutual accommodation and governance,” Morneau said yesterday in Beijing.

“Should we become the first North American member of the AIIB, I have every confidence that we bring constructive and balanced views to the table.”

Joining the China-backed lender would create jobs and business opportunities for Canadians, he said, adding, “Participation in the bank is clearly in Canada’s best interest.”

Canada’s announcement came during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China, where he met Premier Li Keqiang to try to strengthen ties before the G20 summit this weekend in Hangzhou.

Trudeau yesterday hailed a new era in relations with China during his first official visit to a key trading partner, saying he aims to boost “stability and regularity” in their ties.

Trudeau and Li agreed to annual meetings and the eventual establishment of a mechanism to discuss national security and rule of law. Trudeau said they will work together to discuss issues of common concern, including climate change, judicial training, gender equality and empowerment of women and children.

“Renewing our relationship with China is extremely important to Canada,” Trudeau said at a joint news conference after his meeting with Li. “Until now, the China-Canada relationship has somewhat lacked in stability and regularity.”

Trudeau and Li also announced an agreement to extend a September 1 deadline that China had imposed on Canada to tighten its screening of canola exports, which could have led to major losses for Canadian farmers.

China is the biggest foreign consumer of Canadian canola, which is usually refined into an edible oil, but Li said Chinese canola producers and consumers were worried about imported canola carrying disease. Trudeau said Canada and China were working “very closely toward a long-term solution in the coming days and weeks ahead.”