Oxfam: saving the tava’e (and the world)

This guest post is by Oxfam NZ‘s (relatively) new director, Rachael Le Mesurier. She’s off to the UN conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia next week, and here provides an interesting overview of the climate, sea level and other issues that are going to be on the agenda.

The national leaders of some of the world’s hottest island getaway spots are meeting in Apia, Samoa as the third UN conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) gets underway 1st – 4th September. 14 Pacific Island nations and Timor Leste, 16 Caribbean countries and eight small island nations from Africa, the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea are coming together, for the first time in the Pacific, under the theme “The sustainable development of Small Island Developing States through genuine and durable partnerships.”

But it isn’t all glorious sunsets and palm-tree lined white sand beaches in these small island nations. That perfect, tourist-brochure picture is already being impacted by climate change, economic isolation, social challenges and increasingly severe environmental disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, cyclones and floods. The SIDS are coming together to alert the world that the Tava’e/Tropicbird — like the infamous canary in the coal mine — is struggling and the world needs to pay attention.

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TDB Today: Bought and paid for – the dirty politics of climate denial

It was always going to be difficult to avoid writing more about the impact of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics and what it tells us about the way the present government and its supporters have behaved, so in my post at The Daily Blog this week — Bought and paid for – the dirty politics of climate denial — I take a look at the latest revelations from the hacked correspondence. It ain’t pretty…

Friday melts, weird weather and whales (it’s been a long time…)

It’s been a long time since my last post: apologies for that. You may blame a bad cold, an urgent need for root canal work, the peak of the truffle season (and truffle tours for culinary heroes1 ), the start of pruning and political distractions for the drop off in activity here. Normal service should resume in the near future, but meanwhile here are a few of the things that have caught my eye over the last week or two. You may therefore consider this an open thread – and given what follows, somewhat more open than usual…

The political distraction, of course, has been the response to Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. I haven’t yet read the book — it’s queued up on the iPad — but as everyone now knows, it concerns the sordid activities of right-wing attack blogger Cameron Slater, and in particular his close ties with senior government politicians. Slater has a long record of climate denial — often lifting material from µWatts or the Daily Mail to support his ignorant bluster — but the revelation that he published paid material for PR companies masquerading as his own opinion begs a question: was there a similar motivation for his climate denial posts?

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  1. See also: why. []

Climate Change and Human Development

It has been clear for some years that climate change is affecting poorer populations sooner and more gravely than it is economically developed societies. There is little sign that the wealthy nations are much disturbed by this fact, and no sign that it has any braking effect on the inexorable drive to find and exploit fossil fuel reserves. But there are some who care and they can show a dogged persistence in demanding that we take notice of how drastically the climate change for which we are responsible is threatening the lives of people with few defences against it.

Hannah Reid, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, has written a book Climate Change and Human Development which falls into that category of the doggedly persistent. She draws much of her material from a wide range of NGOs’ contact with affected communities and individuals. The book contains numerous short reports of what is happening to people in many parts of the globe, particularly Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Island states. It brings the reader close to the struggles of people like the tribal community elder in Pakistan who describes the disappearance of birds, the advent of mosquitos, the eroding flash floods and concludes: “Our options for survival are shrinking day by day”.

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TDB Today: Dragon breath and the age of consequences

In my column at The Daily Blog this week — Dragon breath and the Age Of Consequences — I take a look at the latest news on Arctic methane. It’s not good, as Jason Box demonstrated by not mincing his words about the seriousness of the threat. For an idea of the consequences, I strongly recommend finding half an hour to look at the video above. Max Wilbert interviews some of the top scientists in the field (including East Siberian Shelf methane expert Natalia Shakova), and the result is a good overview of the pace of change up North and the sheer scale of the permafrost carbon threat.